Zero refugees were admitted into the United States during October despite worsening humanitarian situations around the world, the evangelical resettlement agency World Relief has warned.
Although over 1,889 refugees were resettled to the U.S. in October 2018, not a single refugee was resettled in the U.S. in the past month due to an unusual pause placed by the State Department on refugee admissions.
Even though a proposal was announced in late September to cap the number of refugees admitted to the U.S. in the fiscal year 2020 at 18,000, it was not until last Friday that President Donald Trump officially signed off on the proposal. The new annual ceiling — down from 30,000 in the fiscal year 2019 — is the lowest refugee ceiling set by the U.S. government since the passage of the U.S. Refugee Act in 1980.
According to World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals which has resettled over 300,000 refugees since 1979, the pause on refugee admissions led to hundreds of canceled flights and pushed thousands of refugees set to come to the U.S. into a state of uncertainty.
Of the hundreds of flights canceled, 126 of them were scheduled to transport refugees that World Relief was slated to help resettle. Nearly all of the refugees that World Relief was tapped to help were expecting to be reunited with family members who are already living in the U.S.
Additionally, some refugees who were supposed to come to the U.S. last month face expiring security checks and run the risk of having to wait until they are cleared by another round of screening before they can enter the country.
“It’s a shame that at a time when we’re facing the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II, and we’re seeing the ongoing new displacement of Syrians, Rohingya and others, that the U.S. has accepted zero refugees this month, for the first time in our records,” World Relief Vice President of Advocacy and Policy Jenny Yang said in a statement. “We should be doing more, not less, and keeping the door open to protect the persecuted who have no safe place to go.”
According to World Relief’s records, the previous average for refugees resettled to the U.S. during the last five Octobers was 4,945 refugees.
“This isn’t just heartbreaking — it’s unjust,” World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said in a statement. “Withdrawing our troops from Syria meant unleashing chaos in the region and forcing even more people to flee their homes. To refuse to open our doors is to abdicate responsibility for a scenario to which we as a nation have contributed. I urge the administration to reconsider its approach and set a cap that better represents the compassion and hospitality of the American people.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith