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IRC responds to new reports of plans to further reduce US refugee admissions

Further cuts to the US Refugee Admissions Program by the Trump Administration would turn back thousands already referred to the US for admission, put lives at risk, undermine US foreign policy interests, and speed a global race to the bottom on protection

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds this afternoon with highest concern to reports in the New York Times on US government discussions to further lower the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) refugee admissions level. Over 100,000 have already been referred to the US for resettlement, including persecuted religious minorities, those whose lives are in danger for assisting US troops, orphaned children and others seeking to be reunified with family, and victims of torture or gender-based violence who cannot find safety in countries of first refuge. Nearly 30,000 of those referred to the US for admissions have already completed interviews with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Turning our backs on them now is unfair, inhumane, and strategically flawed. 

As US Admiral Robert J. Natter (Ret.) and Lt. General Mark P. Hertling (Ret.) wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, cutting refugee admissions further will have severe consequences for the US military. Conflicts and their consequences grow when refugees have nowhere to flee. Premature refugee returns can restart conflict and destabilize fragile regions where troops are deployed. 

If the United States does not keep the commitment to those who assisted US troops, over 100,000 of whom await admission to the US, it cannot count on their help in the future. Over two dozen of the foremost US military leaders wrote a letter to President Trump urging an admissions goal commensurate with today’s global crises and US interests.

Nazanin Ash, Vice President, Global Policy and Advocacy:

“A refugee admissions level of 30,000 is already inadequate - additional cuts next fiscal year would devastate thousands already referred for resettlement, nearly 30,000 of whom have already completed DHS interviews.

“Refugee resettlement is a lifesaving option for less than 5% of the world’s 26 million refugees--reserved only for the most vulnerable, those who cannot find safety in countries of first refuge because of their status as religious minorities, for their assistance to US troops, because of torture or violence they suffered, or they are families seeking to reunite and care for loved ones.

“Cuts under this administration have already put lives in danger, sped a global race to the bottom in refugee admissions, undercut promises to those who supported US missions, and abandoned strategic regional allies who host the vast majority of the world’s refugees. Our nation’s military leaders have affirmed the humanitarian and national security importance of this program--and they know what’s at stake. The Administration should heed their advice.

“Hollowing out this bipartisan program even further will cost lives, undermine US interests, and stress the refugee resettlement program to the breaking point – disrupting refugee admissions now and into the future. We urge the administration to protect this vital program, and set an admissions level of 95,000 refugees.” 

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 26 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.