On Thursday, the Trump administration announced its plans to reduce refugee resettlement to an all-time low of 18,000 persons for 2020. This is a 40% reduction from the historically low cap for 2019, which permitted the admission of only 30,000 refugees. The new figure is a stunning rejection of a time-honored policy that for many years permitted the resettlement of at least 95,000 refugees annually.
There is also an accompanying executive order that would allow state and local jurisdictions to deny refugee resettlement in their communities, despite having been approved for resettlement in the United States.
The current refugee crisis has reached staggering levels. More than 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide, and 37,000 people are forced to flee their homes every day due to conflict or persecution.
Syrians continue to be the largest forcibly displaced population in the world, with a total of 13 million people exiled by the end of 2018. This represents more than half of Syria’s pre-conflict population.
We cannot now simply throw up our hands in despair, and say that there is nothing that can be done about this callous and politically motivated decision. We must act to remind our members of Congress that this is a policy that jeopardizes our national security interests, by signaling to our allies that we will not shoulder our fair share of the refugee crisis. Moreover, studies show that refugees are an economic boon helping to build America, not undermining it.
Each of us, whether standing in front of a congregation or by the side of fellow members of a community, should make it clear that we will not remain silent about shunning refugees -- nor should they. Stand up for Syrian refugees and for those still in Syria. Ultimately, we will have our say at the voting booth.