Last week, the Center for Migration Studies released a new report authored by Donald Kerwin: “The US Refugee Resettlement Program — A Return to First Principles: How Refugees Help to Define, Strengthen, and Revitalize the United States.” Below is the introduction and a link to the entire document.
The US refugee resettlement program should be a source of immense national pride. The program
has saved countless lives, put millions of impoverished persons on a path to work, self-sufficiency
and integration, and advanced US standing in the world. Its beneficiaries have included US leaders
in science, medicine, business, the law, government, education, and the arts, as well as countless
others who have strengthened the nation’s social fabric through their work, family, faith, and
community commitments. Refugees embody the ideals of freedom, endurance, and self-sacrifice,
and their presence closes the gap between US ideals and its practices. For these reasons, the US
Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has enjoyed strong, bipartisan support for nearly 40 years.
Yet the current administration has taken aim at this program as part of a broader attack on
legal immigration programs. It has treated refugees as a burden and a potential threat to our
nation, rather than as a source of strength, renewal, and inspiration. In September 2017, it set an
extremely low refugee admissions ceiling (45,000) for 2018, which it has no intention of meeting:
the United States is on pace to resettle one-half of that number. It has also tightened special
clearance procedures for refugees from mostly Muslim-majority states so that virtually none can
enter; cynically slow-walked the interview, screening, and admissions processes; and decimated
the effective community-based resettlement infrastructure built up over many decades (Miliband
2018). At a time of record levels of forced displacement in the world, the United States should
model solidarity with refugees and exercise leadership in global refugee protection efforts (Francis
2018a, 102). Instead, the administration has put the United States on pace to resettle the lowest
number of refugees in USRAP’s 38-year history in fiscal year (FY) 2018, with possible further cuts
in FY 2019.