Updated as of December 11, 2023* 

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls on U.S. Congress to support common-sense solutions by funding lifesaving humanitarian aid and reception in the Biden Administration’s 2024 emergency supplemental request, without trading away fundamental protections for asylum seekers and refugees. With global humanitarian and resettlement needs escalating, the IRC’s call to action comes at a time when more than 360 million require life-saving assistance, all while a record-breaking 110 million people have been forcibly displaced globally. The IRC is warning that failure to pass supplemental funding would cut significant portions of the annual U.S. humanitarian aid budget, worsening already serious challenges in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan, which in turn could lead to more people being forced to flee and seek safety. 

For decades, the U.S. has demonstrated that bipartisan investment can have a transformative impact in addressing the world's most challenging crises while being cost-efficient for taxpayers. International humanitarian assistance accounts for less than1% of America's overall budget, yet has huge payoffs in addressing food insecurity and preventing famines, building climate resilience, and promoting the norms of international humanitarian law. For instance, current humanitarian funding to Ukraine is running dry and is almost half of what it was in 2022. Without additional funds, humanitarians will only be able to meet 54% of the needs in the country versus 87% in 2022.  

Bipartisan negotiations to pass this critical funding are welcome, but they cannot be paired with counterproductive attempts to restrict asylum protections or limit humanitarian parole programs. Such proposed policy shifts will only endanger the lives of already vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees in need of protection. Humanitarian assistance is critical in creating safe conditions in fragile and conflict-affected countries so that people are not forced to leave their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. Additionally, congressional members should use this opportunity to resolve an oversight in the current temporary budget resolution that severely limits access to integration support for Ukrainians who arrive through the Uniting For Ukraine parole program after September 30. Afghans who recently accessed their nation-specific parole program are facing a similar predicament. A fix is possible to ensure both Afghans and Ukrainians have access to much-needed services that help them integrate into their new communities.   

The U.S. should maintain and create additional lawful pathways to safety while improving dignified reception systems at the Southern border and interior communities. Humanitarian parole programs are working to enable safe and orderly protection pathways, and misguided proposals such as raising the credible fear standard, eliminating parole authority, expanding detention, and codifying an asylum ban are the opposite of establishing a safe, orderly, and humane asylum process. Instead, Congress should provide ample funds to assist nonprofits and local communities in supporting reception efforts and community-based case management programs, ensure asylum-seekers can work to support themselves and increase the number of asylum officers for a timely and fair adjudication of cases.  

To prevent worsening humanitarian crises and maintain U.S. stature in setting the standard of international humanitarian response and the power of welcome, the IRC urges Congress to promptly approve supplemental funding and guarantee the allocation of resources for humanitarian assistance and reception within the regular FY24 appropriations. 

*Note: An earlier version contained language that expressed support for the emergency supplemental request. With recent developments, the IRC has updated this to express our steadfast support for funding of humanitarian aid and reception without sacrificing protections for asylum seekers and refugees.