Despite strong bipartisan support on refugee admissions for the past three decades, last week, our current President set the cap on refugee arrivals at 45,000, a historic low.
The International Rescue Committee condemns this record-low cap as a tragic and misguided policy error that harms America as well as refugees. Lives will not just be ruined, they will also be lost. The arbitrary and low refugee cap follows the administration's efforts to broaden and make permanent the misguided Travel Ban, and the decision to withdraw DACA and put the lives of 800,000 young Dreamers under a cloud of fear and uncertainty. Independently, and collectively, these moves set a detrimental precedent for American global leadership and moral standing.
We’re also alarmed by the apparent inclusion in the Presidential Determination of an “assimilation” test before a refugee can enter the United States. The IRC is firmly opposed to such arbitrary tests. The strength of the U.S. resettlement program is that it offers safe haven to the world’s most vulnerable people out of compassion, not out of self-interest.
The fact is that refugees do integrate and make our communities better, and they do it fast: research shows the U.S. was home to more than 180,000 refugee entrepreneurs, 13 percent of the refugee population in 2015. By comparison, only 9 percent of the U.S.-born population are entrepreneurs. That research also shows refugees begin to learn English right away: 54 percent of refugees speak English “very well or exclusively” within 5 to 16 years of arrival to the U.S., and they put down roots with 55 percent living the American dream with home ownership.
Here at the IRC in Miami, this news, however disappointing, works to incentivize us. We’re doubling down on our programs to help the refugee community we’ve resettled achieve their educational and professional goals as well as secure their futures by realizing the dream of citizenship.
A core piece of our long-term programming is our job growth training. For up to five years following their resettlement in the United States, the IRC in Miami provides refugees with customized job training. Having this extra time to work with job coaches who can provide guidance on their long-term career goals, job retention skills, as well as building their understanding of money management all add to the fulfillment of a refugee’s dream of independence.
Your continued support of our local offices helps us to provide these long-term services to our clients during a time when our country’s leader has opted to be unwelcoming. I hope you will consider doubling down with us - click here to Donate.
Thank you for standing with us.
Executive Director, IRC in Miami and Tallahassee