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What you need to know about refugee resettlement and the election

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The International Rescue Committee calls on all candidates running for public office to act on the following important issues in the 2020 election if elected.

Rebuilding refugee resettlement 

Since the signing of the Refugee Act of 1980, the US Resettlement Admissions Program (USRAP) maintained strong, bi-partisan support from leaders across the aisle. Now, despite high global need and evidence that refugees enrich our communities and economies, the US Administration has dramatically cut arrivals. 

In Fiscal Year 2020, the cap on refugee arrivals was set to 18,000 compared to a historical average of 95,000. For this upcoming year, FY 2021, the US administration has proposed a cap on refugee arrivals of only 15,000. Until it is signed, the USRAP remains effectively in pause.

Resettlement is a lifesaving solution only for those who are unable to safely return home or integrate into the country to which they originally fled: Less than one percent of all refugees are resettled each year. Many are persecuted for their religion (including thousands of Christians), ethnicity, for helping US troops overseas as interpreters, and more. 

Not only is refugee resettlement the right thing to do, the evidence is clear that refugees strengthen our communities. We continue to see this through the COVID-19 pandemic, as over 15 percent of refugees work in healthcare, and many more hold essential roles in food processing, grocery stores, and restaurants helping to keep our communities healthy and running.

Protecting the rights of asylum seekers

Seeking asylum is a human right, one protected by international laws. People request asylum when they flee violence or persecution and need to ask for protection in another country.

Today, many asylum seekers at the southern US border have traveled thousands of miles to escape violence in northern Central America, where gang violence is rampant. Frequently, women and girls are the targets of threats, punishments and extortion, common tactics used to control families

Recent US policies turn away asylum seekers and send them back to harms way. Two such policies include forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico to make their case under the Migrant Protection Protocols policy and turning away all noncitizens at the border, with no opportunity for sanctuary. 

Blocking asylum seekers from entering the US to seek protection is in violation of US and international laws.

US policy decisions during the pandemic should certainly be informed by public health best practices. Current asylum policies do not pass that test. Instead, they put asylum seekers in additional danger while doing nothing to make the US safer.

Read more about the stakes for refugees in the US election here.

What YOU can do

It is officially less than one week before the U.S. Election Day on Tuesday, November 3rd. If you are a US citizen, one of the most powerful action you can take is exercising your right to VOTE.

Most importantly, make sure you have a plan to vote. If possible, vote early. In Ada County, there are two options to vote early, absentee ballots and in-person early voting. 

While the deadline to request an absentee ballot has passed, if you have already received an absentee ballot, you can drop it off at one of five ballot drop box locations: 

If you did not request an absentee ballot, you can still vote before Election Day at in-person, early voting locations. There are four locations in Ada County open through Friday, October 30th from 8am to 5pm:

The mobile voting center will also be open through the end of the week, visit the Ada County website for dates and locations.

Lastly, if you are not able to vote early, you can vote in person on election day. To find your polling place, use the Ada County Polling Place Locator or visit your county clerk's website if outside of Ada County.