August 31, 2022

Van Hollen, Cardin, Colleagues Seek Details on State/DHS Plan to Increase Refugee Admissions

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas asking for clarity on plans for rebuilding the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). In addition to Senators Van Hollen and Cardin, the letter was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).  

“At this critical moment for refugees around the world, the U.S.’s moral and legal obligation to our longstanding, bipartisan refugee resettlement program has never been more important,” the senators wrote. “We welcomed Executive Order (EO14013) on rebuilding and enhancing programs to resettle refugees in February 2021, which was desperately needed to address the harm inflicted on the program by the previous administration. This Administration has faced significant challenges in this work, including the numerous discriminatory policies enacted by the previous administration, the implications of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to evacuate over 70,000 Afghans through Operation Allies Welcome.”

“Through your leadership of this interagency effort, we urge you to rapidly adjudicate refugee cases, in particular family reunification cases; to prioritize the implementation of reforms outlined in Executive Order 14013; and to collaborate substantively with Congress and with the refugee resettlement agencies to increase the pace of this work.” The senators include more than a dozen questions seeking more details on processing capacity of the USRAP, as the consultation process for the FY23 Presidential Determination begins.

The full letter is available here

“The current Administration has taken important steps to rebuild the USRAP. But thousands of refugees have been waiting their turn for years, and for some time is running out. They’ve lost years that they could have spent rebuilding their lives and enriching our communities. Instead, they wait, they struggle, and try not to lose hope. As the world only gets more dangerous for religious minorities, political activists, women leaders, and others who face persecution, we call on the Administration to aim high with an FY23 admissions goal of 200,000. We look to our champions in Congress to provide resources to achieve this target. Now is the moment for the U.S. to reclaim its position as a leader in refugee resettlement,” said Melanie Nezer, Senior Vice President of Global Public Affairs, HIAS.

"The need to rebuild and strengthen the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program has never been greater. As we face the worst refugee crisis in history, the United States has a moral obligation to invest in our capacity to welcome and make the necessary improvements to increase refugee arrivals," said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. "CWS calls on the administration to meaningfully consult with Congress and set the FY 2023 refugee admissions goal of 200,000, in line with global need. before September 30th. An admissions goal of 200,000 will signal to the world that the United States is serious about restoring moral leadership and will show allies that we’re committed to doing our part."