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Press Release

IRC appalled by reports of an “assimilation” test for vulnerable refugees

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is 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.

Aside from lacking a moral justification, the Administration does not offer any evidence for the need of an assimilation test.

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.

Said Hans Van de Weerd, VP, U.S. Programs –

 Every day, around the country, we see resettled refugees exhibit a spirit that humbles us, and makes this work inspiring: starting businesses, putting their kids through college, volunteering to serve in the military, joining churches and local associations, all while overcoming trauma we can’t begin to imagine. In fact, I’d probably say they make America great.

“When moral, economic, or security realities don’t drive decision-making on refugees – we wonder what does. The fact that, on resettlement, the Administration has taken its cues from CIS – a nativist think tank with doubtful credentials – is not a positive sign. America’s resettlement policy must continue to be based on facts, and it must remain free of discrimination based on nationality, race, and similar characteristics.”

The IRC urges this White House to more fully consider the precedent and global reverberations of such uninformed decisions. The IRC continues to stand with, and advocate for refugees – and will continue to speak out against arbitrary obstacles designed to make safety and stability unattainable for the most vulnerable.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.