Join State and Local Officials Across the Nation Calling on President Biden to Strengthen the Refugee Resettlement Program

The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), a program established unanimously by Congress under President Reagan, is a vital legal pathway to safety for refugees. Since 1980, this program has offered a chance for people facing persecution because of their political opinions, religious beliefs, race, or nationality the opportunity to begin their lives anew and enjoy the freedoms we value in safety. 

The majority of Americans across the country and across party lines support refugee resettlement, and many have shown this support by welcoming people seeking safety. Refugees bring immense contributions to our communities and economy. Over the last fifteen years, refugees contributed $124 billion to the American economy, including nearly $28 billion in taxes in 2021 alone. As many communities struggle with labor shortages in key professions like teachers, nurses, and doctors, refugees have a critical role to play in bringing needed talent and expertise in these professions and beyond.  

An unprecedented 110 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 40 percent of whom are children. Among them, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that 2.4 million refugees need urgent access to resettlement this year, but less than one percent are afforded this chance. When the United States takes a leadership role in welcoming refugees, it is not only doing the morally right thing but also building goodwill among partner nations, advancing our foreign policy and national security interests. 

While efforts have been made to rebuild USRAP over the last four years, we are at a critical inflection point. It is incredibly important that state and local elected leaders across the country  let the Administration know how valuable refugee resettlement is to the vitality of American communities. Now is the time to make your voices heard and call on President Biden to strengthen the U.S. resettlement program to improve our capacity to welcome, enable our communities to more nimbly provide humanitarian protection, and preserve the USRAP for years to come. It is equally essential that the federal government increase its support of cities and states to coordinate improved services and support for newcomers.

In anticipation of the President’s annual consultation and decision on how many refugees the United States plans to resettle in the upcoming fiscal year, this bipartisan, unbranded letter emphasizes how vital refugees are to our communities and why we must continue to safeguard this critical pathway for people seeking safety by ensuring that USRAP can remain robust and sustainable for years to come.


If you are a STATE OR LOCAL ELECTED OFFICIAL, you can sign onto this letter here. The letter text is below, and this page will be periodically updated to reflect new signatories. 

If you are a CONSTITUENT, you can contact your state and local elected and ask them to sign the letter here.

The deadline to sign the letter is August 23rd, 2024.  Please contact info@refugeeadvocacylab.org with any questions. 

All signatories will be provided the final PDF of the letter, along with a short toolkit on how to amplify your support, including sample tweets and press release language.

 

Letter Text


 

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As elected leaders of our communities at all levels of state and local government, we write today to express our strong support for welcoming and resettling refugees in the United States. We commend efforts to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) over the last four years, and we call on your Administration to take steps to preserve and strengthen this progress and ensure the program remains robust, nimble, and sustainable for years to come. 

Representing elected officials from both sides of the aisle, we affirm our commitment to safeguarding USRAP and American values of welcoming people seeking safety. USRAP was formally established unanimously by Congress during President Reagan’s presidency, enjoying broad bipartisan support. Over the years, the program has welcomed people facing persecution because of their political opinions, religious beliefs, race, or nationality who now enjoy and uphold the freedoms we hold dear in this country. 

As our experience with welcoming Afghans and Ukrainians has shown, U.S. leadership on protecting refugees not only provides a lifeline for those fleeing war, violence, and persecution, but also creates goodwill among partner nations, advancing our foreign policy, diplomatic, and national security interests. At the local level, we have seen firsthand how refugees enrich our communities – strengthening our economies and civic institutions. Refugees also bring immense contributions to our economies. According to a recent Health and Human Services report, refugees and asylees contributed a $124 billion net positive fiscal impact to our economy. Our communities have benefited directly from their contributions: refugees establish businesses, fill labor shortages, and enrich our cultural and social fabric, ensuring our states – and country – remain economically and socially vibrant. 

The international community faces a forced migration crisis of historic proportions. We must offer bold leadership and innovative solutions and join other nations by doing our part. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently reported that an unprecedented 110 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 40 percent of whom are children. Among them, UNHCR estimates that 2.4 million refugees need urgent access to resettlement this year, but less than one percent are afforded this chance. 

We continually hear from our constituents that they believe in and support refugee resettlement. From greeting refugee families at the airport to assisting with English language classes or navigating bus lines, our communities stand for welcome. 

As state and local elected leaders, we aspire to make our communities places where newcomers have an equal chance to contribute and thrive. We have championed policies such as  workforce development studies and reducing unnecessary occupational barriers so that skilled refugees can more easily join the workforce. As many communities struggle with labor shortages in key professions like teachers, nurses, and doctors, refugees have a critical role to play in filling staffing gaps.  

Together, we can and must do more. With greater federal support, our communities stand ready to welcome refugees who want to restart their lives in safety. Safeguarding USRAP requires a multi-year commitment to invest in the refugee resettlement infrastructure to ensure the program remains sustainable for years to come. Our cities and states need greater coordination and support from the federal government so that newcomers have access to programs and services that help them succeed in their new homes. We are calling on your administration to double down on the investment of resources necessary to build a robust resettlement program that can withstand external pressures, refugee emergencies, and political transitions. 

We are better and stronger because of refugees and their families. As state and local elected officials, we call on you to protect our nation’s standing as a leader in welcoming refugees by ensuring the refugee resettlement program is resourced, robust, and sustainable for years to come. 

We hope that you will consider our strong desire to welcome refugees as you make your determination.

Sincerely,

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