On First Anniversary of Trump's Travel Ban, Blumenthal Calls on Congress to Commit to Refugee Resettlement

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Following the first anniversary of President Trump’s executive order barring immigrants from majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a resolution calling on Congress to show leadership by reaffirming the United States’ commitment to providing a safe haven for refugees fleeing oppression. President Trump issued the first of three executive orders banning refugees, immigrants, and visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States on January 27, 2017. Although the Supreme Court is currently reviewing the third iteration of the President’s Muslim travel ban, the latest executive order has been allowed to go into effect until a ruling is issued.

“In the year since President Trump first signed his travel ban, the Administration and its allies have turned their backs on the worst refugee crisis in modern history,” said Blumenthal. “This resolution will tell the world – especially refugees fleeing oppression – that Congress stands firm in America’s commitment to the moral and geopolitical good done by opening our nation’s doors to such immigrants.” 

As the global displacement crisis continues to worsen – with more than 22,500,000 refugees worldwide – the resolution directs the United States to commit to resettle 45,000 refugees next year, and 75,000 refugees the year afterwards. In spite of a 45,000 refugee resettlement target imposed by the Trump administration, the United States is on track to admit just between 15,000 and 20,000 refugees this year.

Blumenthal introduced this resolution with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The resolution is supported by 62 advocacy groups, including the Immigration and Refugee Program at Church World Service.

“Our faith traditions teach us to welcome the stranger and love thy neighbor, and the U.S. refugee resettlement program is the embodiment of those values,” said CWS President and CEO Reverend John L. McCullough. “As we face the worst refugee crisis in our memory with more than 22 million refugees worldwide, it is a critical time for the United States to demonstrate leadership in protecting the most vulnerable - regardless of where they come from or what faith they practice. We call on the administration to resettle at least 45,000 refugees to meet this year’s refugee admissions goal - already the lowest ceiling in our history - and commit to resettling at least 75,000 refugees next year. Any less would violate our nation’s principles of compassion, hospitality, and welcome."

The full text of the resolution is copied below.

Whereas the world is in the midst of the worst global displacement crisis in history, with more than 22,500,000 refugees worldwide, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates;

Whereas, in fiscal year 2017, UNHCR projected that more than 1,200,000 refugees were in need of resettlement to a third country, and this projection continues to grow in 2018;

Whereas the United States resettlement program is a life-saving solution critical to global humanitarian efforts, which serves to strengthen global security, leverage United States foreign policy goals, and support regional host countries while serving individuals and families in need;

Whereas, for over 40 years, the United States has resettled up to 200,000 refugees per year, with an average ceiling of 95,000 refugees per year, and on average actually resettled 80,000 refugees per year;

Whereas refugees are the most vetted travelers to enter the United States and are subject to extensive screening checks, including in person interviews, biometric data checks, and multiple interagency checks;

Whereas, it would be an abdication of United States leadership to resettle fewer than 75,000 refugees next fiscal year;

Whereas the United States refugee resettlement system emphasizes early self-sufficiency through employment, and most adult refugees are employed within their first six months of arriving to the United States;

Whereas refugees contribute to their communities by starting businesses, paying taxes, sharing their cultural traditions, and being involved in their neighborhoods, and reports have found that refugees contribute more than they consume in state-funded services – including for schooling and health care;

Whereas, on January 27, 2017, President Donald J. Trump released an executive order banning individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees from entering the country;

Whereas, since that time, the President has taken further executive action to ban people from Muslim-majority countries and has taken steps to dismantle the United States refugee program;

Whereas, in September 2017, President Trump announced a Presidential Determination of 45,000 for fiscal year 2018, the lowest refugee admissions ceiling ever set;

Whereas, during the first three months of fiscal year 2018, the United States welcomed a total of 5,323 refugees, in spite of the fact that to meet the 45,000 ceiling, 11,250 individuals should have arrived during this time period;

Whereas, at this pace, the United States may only admit between 15,000-20,000 refugees this year; and

Whereas, United States structures and funding constrictions have resulted in lowered capacity and loss of institutional memory and experience in the successful United States Refugee Admissions Program: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) reaffirms our country’s proud history of refugee resettlement;

(2) recognizes January 27, 2018, as the anniversary of the first refugee and Muslim ban;

(3) reaffirms the strong bipartisan commitment of the United States to promote the safety, health, and well-being of the millions of refugees;

(4) underscores the importance of the United States Refugee Resettlement Program as a critical tool for United States global leadership;

(5) recognizes the profound consequences faced by refugees and their families who have been stranded, separated, and scarred by current United States policies, leaving many mid-process and more with little hope of anticipated United States entry; and

(6) calls upon the United States Government—

(A) to resettle 45,000 refugees in fiscal year 2018;

(B) to resettle at least 75,000 refugees in fiscal year 2019;

(C) to uphold its international leadership role in responding to displacement crises with humanitarian assistance and protection of the most vulnerable populations; and

(D) to recommit to offering freedom from oppression and resettling the most vulnerable refugees regardless of their country of origin or religious beliefs.