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Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the 1980 Refugee Act

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“Whether the borders that divide us are picket fences or national boundaries, we are all neighbors in a global community.” – President Jimmy Carter

March 17 marks the 40th Anniversary of President Jimmy Carter signing the Refugee Act of 1980. Forty years ago, Congress passed landmark legislation with near unanimous bipartisan support creating a formal process for welcoming refugees based on humanitarian needs and U.S. interests.

The IRC in Miami opened 20 years prior in 1960 in response to the Cuban Revolution. Our first office was located in El Refugio, a community center that collectively provided $1.4 billion in money, food, medical care and social services to nearly 1,000,000 Cubans who arrived between 1961 and 1978. Our state has benefited from being a welcoming community ever since.

With your support over the decades that would follow, the IRC in Miami served tens of thousands of refugees, asylees, Cuban entrants, survivors of trafficking and other vulnerable populations in South Florida. We opened our second Florida office in Tallahassee in 2015 and have since welcomed more than 500 refugees to rebuild their lives in Leon County. Unfortunately, under the current administration our strong legacy of welcome is under threat.

Many of the refugees welcomed by the IRC in Tallahassee are school-aged children.

Did you know? In 2019, the IRC in Tallahassee welcomed 122 refugees to a new home in Florida!

Since the establishment of the modern-day resettlement program in 1980, the annual admissions goal has averaged 95,000 refugees. The administration committed to resettling just 18,000 refugees in 2020—the lowest number in U.S. history. We can make sure Congress steps in once again to ensure the United States welcomes refugees no matter who is president. The GRACE Act will uphold America’s long bi-partisan tradition by establishing an annual refugee admissions level of no less than 95,000, restoring refugee admissions to historic levels. Learn more and contact your Representative about the GRACE Act here.

Ask your representative to cosponsor the GRACE Act today

Due to nationally reduced refugee admissions and the travel ban, the IRC concluded refugee resettlement services in our Miami office in 2018*. The IRC in Tallahassee continues to welcome approximately 100 refugees each year, despite a national reduction in arrivals.

Thank you for your continued support and advocacy to protect the life-saving and community building Refugee Resettlement Program and for being a part of #40YearsOfWelcome!

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Florida and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.

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*Although the IRC in Miami’s refugee resettlement program concluded in 2018, the office continues to serve the community through providing holistic, trauma-informed services to survivors of human trafficking as well as unaccompanied children and their families; conducting public outreach and education to raise awareness of human trafficking; and co-leading the South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force in partnership with local and federal government law enforcement. Contact the IRC in Miami’s Caridad.MasBatchelor [at] Rescue.org to learn more.