The International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds today to an unprecedented open letter to President Trump from retired Flag and General Officers of the U.S. military, including former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer, addressing the need for a ‘robust’ US refugee admissions program in the coming year.

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said:

“This unprecedented letter from an extraordinary collection of America’s military leaders recognizes the critical impact of US refugee resettlement policy, not just in saving lives but also in promoting global stability and safeguarding the strategic interests of the United States. It demonstrates the high stakes as the Administration weighs its decision on the number of refugees to be allowed into the US in Fiscal Year 2020. 

“The argument of the military leaders is hard headed.  It is not just America’s values that are served by the admission of refugees. It is also America’s national security. Refugee admissions are an investment in the nation’s security, a support for its role in the world, and a lead for other countries.”

“The letter is a clear call for the Administration to reverse its current course.  Since 2016, the Trump administration has set progressively lower refugee admissions goals.  It has reduced its refugee admissions by almost 75% to a historic low ceiling of 30,000, compared to a forty-year average set across both republican and democrat administrations of 95,000.  This has undermined American interests, undercut American leadership and provided an excuse for other countries to cut their help for refugees - at precisely the time when there is a global refugee crisis.  

“The human effects of this course are nowhere more clear than where American troops are on the battlefield. In 2018 the US admitted just 51 Iraqis who helped US missions overseas, with 100,000 Iraqis left in limbo in the pipeline.

“With a record 26 million refugees fleeing violence and persecution worldwide, this is a time when America can do something that is right and smart.  The most powerful nation in the world has a unique responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people in the world. The fact that it can serve its own interests while doing so makes this a win-win.  And since refugees - who have been vetted through the toughest security assessment in the world -  have been shown to be net economic contributors to the US, the case for this program is irrefutable.