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Press Release

The IRC renews call to the US to address crises in Northern Central America as projected resettlement needs grow

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) announcement of projected resettlement needs for 2022 and Vice President Kamala Harris’ upcoming trip to the U.S. Southern border with a renewed call to alleviate the crisis in Northern Central America (NCA) by expanding resettlement from Latin America, introducing a protection-forward asylum system, and increasing aid to the region.

More than 1.47 million refugees will be in need of resettlement next year, an increase of 2 percent from the project needs in 2021. In Latin America, needs are expected to rise by 89 percent in 2022 -- the highest percentage increase across regions. In a recent report, the IRC outlined the toxic mix of COVID-induced economic strife, growing gang and gender-based violence, and increasing climate threats fueling one of the fastest-growing displacement crises in Northern Central America. As President Biden continues to rebuild the USRAP, and with over half of Americans believing that the US has a moral obligation to resettle refugees, the IRC calls on the Administration to increase admissions slots for Latin America to at least 15,000 for FY22 as part of President Biden’s commitment to increase refugee resettlement slots to 125,000 for FY2022.

Hans Van de Weerd, Vice President of Resettlement, Asylum, and Integration at the IRC said:

“The steady rise of global resettlement needs is a solemn reminder of the consequences of conflict, climate change worldwide, as well as a devastating global pandemic. Only a very small number of total displacement -- families, individuals with medical emergencies, women and girls, and survivors of torture and violence -- will have the chance to rebuild their lives in their new adopted homes.”

“While global displacement swells to its highest number since World War II, the Biden Administration can alleviate the growing humanitarian crisis in Northern Central America by expanding resettlement, increasing aid to the region, and introducing a protection-forward and dignity-centric asylum system. By doing this, President Biden can set a powerful example for the rest of the world and replace cruelty with compassion, which is what Americans want: a recent YouGov poll revealed that over half of US Citizens agree the US has a moral obligation to resettle refugees and provide safe haven in US communities.”

The Administration can immediately alleviate both the growing root causes of crisis in Northern Central America, alleviate pressure on the US Southern border, and encourage other countries in the region to increase their own resettlement commitments by:

  • Increasing aid to address the humanitarian crisis in the region and the thousands who are internally displaced, including via cash assistance and building up response and protection capacity in communities of first refuge;
  • Expanding admission slots for Latin Americans in the USRAP to 15,000 up from the current goal of 5,000, recognizing projected resettlement needs in 2021;
  • Increasing regional processing capacity and referral pathways so that persons facing acute protection risks, like LGBTQI refugees, have equitable access to resettlement;
  • Ending Title 42, the policy whereby asylum seekers have been expelled at the US-Mexico border under the pretext of public health, and introduce COVID-proof measures to safely and humanely process asylum-seekers at the border.
  • Introducing long-term reforms that promote a fair and humane US asylum system including protection-centered, community-based alternatives to detention, universal legal representation, and humanitarian reception at the border.
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 over 20 U.S. cities 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.