270 Elected Leaders Call on President to Admit 75,000 Refugees in 2019

By Meggie Weiler, HIAS Policy Officer

With the end of the federal fiscal year just around the corner, President Trump is expected to soon announce the number of refugees to be admitted to the United States in 2019. This number, known as the Presidential Determination, is decided annually by the President in consultation with Congress, and historically signals to the world the nation’s commitment to help refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

In advance of this decision, HIAS and other refugee advocacy organizations asked elected officials from across the country to sign a letter to the President urging him to set refugee admissions for fiscal 2019 at 75,000. The resulting bipartisan letter has been signed by 270 officials from 42 states, including Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, 58 mayors, and numerous city council members, state legislators and others who have come together to voice their support for welcoming refugees in their communities.

The letter reads in part, “The United States of America is a nation founded and built by immigrants and refugees. It is that history that makes our collective states and communities strong; it is our deep respect for hard work, our shared commitment to the country we call home, and our belief that America is a beacon of hope, that unites us.”

Since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980, the Presidential Determination has averaged 95,000, however in 2018, in the face of an unprecedented global refugee crisis, the Trump administration set the cap at a historically low 45,000, significantly scaling back the refugee admissions program. With less than two months left in the fiscal year, we are on track to admit about 20,000 refugees nationwide, a shocking transition for a nation which has been a global leader in refugee protection for generations.

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