WASHINGTON—This week, U.S. refugee admissions reached the historically low cap of 50,000 refugees allowed to be resettled in the United States for Fiscal Year 2017, as set forth by the Administration’s March 6th Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13780 altered the initial Fiscal Year 2017 Presidential Determination which authorized the resettlement of 110,000 refugees into the United States. Currently there are approximately 22.5 million refugees seeking protection globally.
The following is a statement in response to the resettlement cap from Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Austin, Texas, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration:
“I note with sadness that the new U.S. refugee admissions cap of 50,000 individuals has been reached this week. While certain refugees who have ‘bona fide relationships’ will still be allowed to arrive, I remain deeply concerned about the human consequences of this limitation and its impact on vulnerable refugees such as unaccompanied refugee children, elderly and infirm refugees, and religious minorities. Now, these vulnerable populations will not be able to access needed protection and will continue to face danger and exploitation. Pope Francis reminds us that ‘refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.’ We must be mindful that every refugee is more than just a number, they are a child of God.
Looking forward, my brother bishops and I urge the Administration to allow 75,000 refugees to arrive to our country in the next fiscal year. As I stated in March 2017, in relation to this particular Executive Order, ‘Resettling only 50,000 refugees a year, down from 110,000, does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation.’ We firmly believe that as a nation the United States has the good will, character, leadership, and resources to help more vulnerable people seek refuge. Most importantly, the Church will continue to serve and stand in solidarity with refugees, welcoming and accompanying them on their journey to protection and safety.”
The full letter from March 17 can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-048.cfm
H.R. 2200, The Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017, would reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The TVPA, the original foundational anti-trafficking legislation in the U.S., was created in 2000 and has been reauthorized four times by overwhelmingly bipartisan votes. H.R. 2200 was introduced by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ-4) and Representative Karen Bass (D-CA-37) on April 27, 2017.
Supporting H.R. 2200 is an important step the United States can demonstrate to continue our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking victims. H.R. 2200 ensures critical funding for both domestic and international anti-trafficking programs. Reauthorizing the TVPA allows programs and services that recognize the importance of dignified care for human trafficking victims to continue assisting human trafficking victims.
Letter of Support for the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017
I write on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration (USCCB/COM) to urge you to consider supporting H.R. 2200, the “Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2017.” This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representative Smith (R-NJ-4) and Representative Bass (D-CA-37) on April 27, 2017, is vital to continuing our nation’s efforts to eradicate human trafficking and assist human trafficking victims.
The Catholic Church has a longstanding role in the prevention of human trafficking and the rehabilitation of victims. Calling human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society” and “a crime against humanity” Pope Francis and the Vatican have taken global leadership on anti-trafficking initiatives. In the United States, we support Pope Francis’ commitment and will continue to work to eradicate human trafficking and rehabilitate victims.
H.R. 2200 is an important step Congress can take to help prevent human trafficking and protect victims as it provides important service provisions that will aid victims. Programs and services such as those contained in H.R. 2200 recognize the importance of dignified care for and reintegration of human trafficking victims. As Pope Francis has stated: “[Trafficking] victims are from all walks of life, but are most frequently among the poorest and most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.” I believe that these exploited individuals deserve the care and support of our communities and our government and that such support will help them heal and become survivors.”
We are also pleased to see that H.R. 2200 includes provisions which would aid the monitoring of child, forced, and slave labor, as well as further the elimination of human trafficking in U.S. government supply chains. These are issues which are of deep concern to Catholics globally. As Pope Francis explained at the 2015 World Day of Peace, “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act.”
We thank Congress for its long-standing commitment to confront modern-day slavery. We ask that you renew your commitment by supporting H.R. 2200 and work to keep this a bipartisan effort.
The need for this legislation is great; we must come together to fight this crime against humanity and ensure that survivors are given the services they need to live with dignity.
Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez
Bishop of Austin
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration