State and Local Officials From All 50 States Call on Biden Administration to Urgently Rebuild the Refugee Resettlement Program in FY 2023

There has never been a more urgent time for states and communities across the country to demonstrate their support for refugees and for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a nonpartisan program that has offered safety and a new beginning for refugees since 1980. 

Over the past year, Americans across the country have welcomed with open arms people seeking safety—including Afghans and Ukrainians—as they fled danger, persecution, and war in their homelands. Faith communities, veterans, schools, business leaders, and everyday citizens alike have come together with a common purpose to give our new neighbors a chance to restart their lives in safety, and in doing so have come to better know one another.   

However, 100 million people worldwide– from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Myanmar, Syria, Venezuela and beyond –have been forcibly displaced, a new record. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that among them, 2 million people need urgent access to resettlement this year. 

Unfortunately, the United States resettled the lowest number of people in the history of the refugee program in FY 2021. And while the Biden administration set a laudable goal of resettling 125,000 people in FY 2022, the United States is on pace to resettle only a fraction of that number. We must do better in the year ahead.

Refugees are a vital part of the American social, cultural, and economic fabric. They invigorate our economies, bring innovation to our towns, and make our communities stronger through their contributions to our public life and cultural institutions. We want to express this support to the President, and call on him to meet his commitment to resettle refugees now, and in the upcoming fiscal year, by ensuring that the resettlement program is sufficiently resourced and responsive to emergent humanitarian needs.

In anticipation of the President’s annual decision on how many refugees the United States will resettle in the upcoming fiscal year, this nonpartisan, unbranded letter emphasizes how vital refugees are to our communities, and why we need a robust, well-funded system to welcome them.

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This letter is now closed for signatures. If you have any questions or would still like to support this effort please contact outreach@refugeeadvocacylab.org .

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 ———— TEXT OF LETTER ————

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

Dear Mr. President:

As leaders in our communities and elected officials at all levels of state and local government, we write today to express our strong support for protecting and resettling refugees in the United States. We call on your Administration to meet its commitment to resettle refugees in Fiscal Year 2023 and to prioritize restoring our nation’s refugee resettlement infrastructure to ensure we achieve that goal. 

Refugee resettlement is not only a lifeline for refugees, but it also invigorates our communities—strengthening our economies and civic institutions. We urge you to consider the voices of elected leaders across the country as we join together in support of this life-saving program. As our experience with the evacuation of at-risk Afghans and our response to the war in Ukraine has laid bare, preserving and investing in refugee resettlement is key in order to effectively and humanely respond to emergency refugee situations, as well as continue U.S. leadership to protect those caught in protracted conflict across the globe.  

The international community faces a forced migration crisis of historic proportions that requires bold leadership, innovative solutions, and all countries to do their fair share. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently reported that an unprecedented 100 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 42 percent of which are children. Among them, UNHCR estimates that 2 million refugees need access to resettlement this year. Despite this, less than one percent are afforded this chance. 

As a record-breaking refugee crisis unfolds globally, we have a chance to affirm U.S. leadership and our commitments to the world and to this nation by welcoming refugees into our communities. As elected leaders, we continually hear from our constituents that they 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. They know that refugees were forced to flee in order to save their lives and are now looking for a place to be safe and call home again. 

In FY 2021, the United States resettled 11,411 refugees, the lowest in any year on record. We applauded your action to increase the refugee admissions goal to 125,000 for FY 2022, but we are disappointingly on pace to reach less than 20 percent of that number.  Resettlement offers refugees an important permanent pathway to safety. The recent pivot by the United States towards offering temporary pathways over resettlement, as we observed in the U.S. evacuation of Afghans for example, is the direct result of an underfunded resettlement process that cannot adequately scale-up during emergencies. 

We can and must do more. Our communities stand ready to welcome refugees in need. We are calling on your administration to double down on the investment of resources necessary to rebuild the resettlement program to welcome more refugees this upcoming fiscal year. 

Refugees bring immense value to our communities. They invigorate our economies, bring innovation to our towns, and make our public and cultural institutions richer. Refugees are students, business owners, dedicated employees, customers, elected officials, and community leaders. In every way, they embody what it means to be an American.

We are better and stronger because of refugees and their families. As state and local elected officials, we call on you to restore our nation’s standing as a leader in welcoming refugees by ensuring adequate resources are made available to restore the resettlement program and ensure we meet the FY 2023 resettlement goal.

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

Sincerely,

Alabama

Randall Woodfin, Mayor, Birmingham
Neil Rafferty, State Representative, Birmingham

Alaska

Austin Quinn-Davidson, Assemblymember, Anchorage

Arizona

Richard Andrade, State Representative, Phoenix
Andrés Cano, State Representative, Tucson
Kevin Dahl, Council Member, Tucson
Andrea Dalessandro, State Representative, Green Valley
Mitzi Epstein, State Representative, Phoenix
Rosanna Gabaldon, State Senator, Sahuarita
Theresa Hatathlie, State Senator, Coalmine Mesa
Lauren Kuby, Council Member, Tempe
Jennifer Longdon, State Representative, Phoenix
Juan Mendez, State Senator, Tempe
Stanford Prescott, School Board Member, Phoenix
Martín Quezada, State Senator, Phoenix
Athena Salman, State Representative, Phoenix
Judy Schwiebert, State Representative, Phoenix
Muktar Sheikh, School Board Member, Phoenix
Christian Solorio, State Representative, Phoenix
Raquel Teran, State Senator, Phoenix

Arkansas

Lioneld Jordan, Mayor, Fayetteville
Holly Hertzberg, Council Member, Fayetteville
Sara Lamnin, Council Member, Hayward

California

John Bauters, Mayor, Emeryville
Farah Khan, Mayor, Irvine
Daniel Lee, Mayor, Culver City
Javier Moreno, Mayor, Calexico
Chance Cutrano, Vice Mayor, Fairfax
Lynn Edmonds, Council Member, Fillmore
Victoria Fleming, Council Member, Santa Rosa
Grace Garner, Council Member, Palm Springs
Kevin Haroff, Council Member, Larkspur
Brian Hawkins, Council Member, San Jacinto
Lindsey Horvath, Council Member, West Hollywood
Sudhanshu Jain, Council Member, Santa Clara
Shawn Kumagai, Council Member, Dublin
Amourence Lee, Council Member, San Mateo
Joy Lyndes, Council Member, Encinitas
Nelida Mendoza, Council Member, Santa Ana
Alfred Parham, Council Member, Patterson
Dennis Pocekay, Council Member, Petaluma
Dean Preston, Board of Supervisors Member, San Francisco
Vanessa Quiroz-Carter, Council Member, Watsonville
Chris Ricci, Council Member, Modesto
John Richards, Council Member, Portola Valley
Rigel Robinson, Council Member, Berkeley

Colorado

Jared Polis, Governor
Michael Hancock, Mayor, Denver
Judy Amabile, State Representative, Boulder
Kendra Black, Council Member, Denver
Andrew Boesenecker, State Representative, Fort Collins
Candi CdeBaca, Council Member, Denver
Alison Coombs, Council Member, Aurora
Julie Gonzales, State Senator, Denver
Daneya Esgar, House Majority Leader, Pueblo
Rhonda Fields, State Senator, Aurora
Leslie Herod, State Representative, Denver
Iman Jodeh, State Representative, Denver
Paul Kashmann, Council Member, Denver
John Kefalas, County Commissioner, Fort Collins
Chris Kennedy, State Representative, Lakewood
Cathy Kipp, State Representative, Fort Collins
Pete Lee, State Senator, Colorado Springs
Juan Marcano, Council Member, Aurora
Julie McCluskie, State Representative, Denver
Karen McCormick, State Representative, Longmont
Ruben Medina, Council Member, Aurora
Dafna Michaelson Jenet, State Representative, Commerce City
Dominick Moreno, State Senator, Commerce City
Crystal Murillo, Council Member, Aurora
Deborah Ortega, Council Member, Denver
Naquetta Ricks, State Representative, Denver
Robert Rodriguez, State Senator, Denver
Amanda Sandoval, Council Member, Denver
Amanda Sawyer, Council Member, Denver
Kristin Stephens, County Commissioner, Fort Collins
Emily Sirota, State Representative, Denver
Brianna Titone, State Representative, Denver
Jamie Torres, Council Member, Denver

Connecticut

Luke Bronin, Mayor, Hartford
Justin Elicker, Mayor, New Haven
Kate Farrar, State Representative, West Hartford
Rosa Ferraro-Santana, Alderperson, New Haven
Anne Hughes, State Representative, Easton/Weston/Redding
Julie Kushner, State Senator, Danbury
Matthew Lesser, State Senator, Middletown
David Michel, State Representative, Hartford
Denis Patterson, City Representative, Stamford

Delaware

Paul Baumbach, State Representative, Newark

District of Columbia

Keya Chatterjee, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, Washington
Brianne Nadeau, Council Member, Washington

Florida

Buddy Dyer, Mayor, Orlando
Dotie Joseph, State Representative, North Miami
Anna Eskamani, State Representative, State Representative, Orlando

Georgia

Beverly Burks, Mayor, Clarkston
Liliana Bakhtiari, Council Member, Atlanta
Yterenickia Bell, Council Member, Clarkston
Jason Dozier, Council Member, Atlanta
Kim Jackson, State Senator, Stone Mountain
Marvin Lim, State Representative, Norcross
Pedro Marin, State Representative, Duluth
Sam Park, State Representative, Lawrenceville
Kim Schofield, State Representative, Atlanta
Edward Terry, County Commissioner, Decatur

Hawaii

Stanley Chang, State Senator, Honolulu
Amy Perruso, State Representative, Wahiawa

Idaho

Lauren McLean, Mayor, Boise
Clark Kauffman, State Representative, Filer
Melissa Wintrow, State Senator, Boise

Illinois

Lori E. Lightfoot, Mayor, Chicago
Daniel Biss, Mayor, Evanston
Jonathan Vanderbilt, Mayor, Park Forest
Margaret Croke, State Representative, Chicago
Gail Eisenberg, Township Supervisor, New Trier Township
Greg Harris, House Majority Leader, Chicago
Lindsey LaPointe, State Representative, Chicago
Jonathan Nieuwsma, Council Member, Evanston
Carol Rauschenberger, Council Member, Elgin
Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Council Member, Chicago
Mike Simmons, State Senator, Chicago
Kim Stone, Council Member, Highland Park
Andre Vasquez, Alderperson, Chicago

Indiana

James Mueller, Mayor, South Bend
Zach Adamson, City-County Council Vice President, Indianapolis
Pat Boy, State Representative, Michigan City

Iowa

Brad Cavanagh, Mayor, Dubuque
Chris Hoffman, Mayor, North Liberty
Molly Donahue, State Representative, Cedar Rapids
Tracy Ehlert, State Representative, Cedar Rapids
Mary Mascher, State Representative, Iowa City
Stacey Walker, County Commissioner, Cedar Rapids

Kansas

Lacey Cruse, County Commissioner, Wichita
John Doll, State Senator, Garden City
Mary Ware, State Senator, Wichita

Kentucky

Jennifer Reynolds, Council Member, Lexington

Louisiana

Jeffery Darby, Council Member, Bossier City

Maine

Deqa Dhalac, Mayor, South Portland
Michael Foley, Mayor, Westbrook
Poppy Arford, State Representative, Brunswick
Joseph Baldacci, State Senator, Bangor
Anne Carney, State Senator, Cape Elizabeth
Kristen Cloutier, State Representative, Lewiston
Lydia Crafts, State Representative, Newcastle
Lois Galgay Reckitt, State Representative, South Portland
Christopher Kessler, State Representative, South Portland
Raegan LaRochelle, State Representative, Augusta
Grayson Lookner, State Representative, Portland
Rebecca Millett, State Representative, Cape Elizabeth
Victoria Morales, State Representative, South Portland
Maggie O’Neil, State Representative, Saco
Laurie Osher, State Representative, Orono
Morgan Rielly, State Representative, Westbrook
Amy Roeder, State Representative, Bangor
Melanie Sachs, State Representative, Freeport
Suzanne Salisbury, State Representative, Westbrook
Heather Sanborn, State Senator, Portland
Rachel Talbot Ross, Assistant House Majority Leader, Portland
Denise Tepler, State Representative, Topsham
Sam Zager, State Representative, Portland

Maryland

Celina Benitez, Mayor, Mount Rainier
Kate Stewart, Mayor, Takoma Park
Rocio Treminio-Lopez, Mayor, Brentwood
J. Sandy Bartlett, Delegate, Annapolis
Pamela Boozer-Strother, Board of Education Member, Brentwood
Lorig Charkoudian, Delegate, Takoma Park
Cindy Dyballa, City Council Member, Takoma Park
Brian Feldman, State Senator, Annapolis
Jessica Feldmark, Delegate, Columbia
Shaton Green Middleton, Council Member, Baltimore
Shelly Hettleman, State Senator, Baltimore
Terri Hill, Delegate, Columbia
Anne Kaiser, Delegate, Annapolis
Kenneth Kerr, Delegate, Frederick
Kacy Kostiuk, Council Member, Takoma Park
Peter Kovar, Council Member, Takoma Park
Susan Lee, State Senator, Bethesda
Mary Lehman, Delegate, Laurel
Robbyn Lewis, Delegate, Baltimore
Karen LewisYoung, Delegate, Frederick
Brooke Lierman, Delegate, Baltimore
Lesley Lopez, Delegate, Germantown
David Moon, Delegate, Silver Spring
Julie Palakovich, Delegate, Rockville
Joseline Peña-Melnyk, Delegate, Anapolis
Lily Qi, Delegate, Potomac
Pamela Queen, Delegate, Olney
Sheila Ruth, Delegate, Catonsville
Rommel Sandino, Council Member, Hyattsville
Nicole Williams, Delegate, Greenbelt
Robert Wu, Council Member, Gaithersburg

Massachusetts

Michelle Wu, Mayor, Boston
Ruth Balser, State Representative, Newton
Christine Barber, State Representative, Somerville
Caroline Bays, Council Member, Watertown
Michelle Ciccolo, State Representative, Lexington
Mike Connolly, State Representative, Cambridge
Brendan Crighton, State Senator, Lynn
Mindy Domb, State Representative, Boston
Patricia Duffy, State Representative, Holyoke
Tricia Farley-Bouvier, State Representative, Pittsfield
Dylan Fernandes, State Representative, Falmouth
Sean Garballey, State Representative, Arlington
Nicole Gardner, Council Member, Watertown
Carmine Gentile, State Representative, Sudbury
Tami Gouveia, State Representative, Acton
Natalie Higgins, State Representative, Boston
Vanna Howard, State Representative, Lowell
Kay Khan, State Representative, Newton
David LeBoeuf, State Representative, Worcester
Adrian Madaro, State Representative, Boston
Tram Nguyen, State Representative, Andover
Steve Owens, State Representative, Watertown
Tony Palomba, Council Member, Watertown
Jack Patrick Lewis, State Representative, Framingham
Lindsay Sabadosa, State Representative, Northampton
Danillo Sena, State Representative, Acton
Jeff Thielman, School Committee Member, Arlington
Erika Uyterhoeven, State Representative, Somerville
Tommy Vitolo, State Representative, Brookline

Michigan

Sheldon A. Neeley, Mayor, Flint
Winnie Brinks, State Senator, Grand Rapids
Kurt Reppart, Council Member, Grand Rapids
Monica Sparks, County Commissioner, Kentwood

Minnesota

Jacob Frey, Mayor, Minneapolis
Sandra Feist, State Representative, New Brighton
Aisha Gomez, State Representative, St. Paul
Emma Greenman, State Representative, Minneapolis
Robyn Gulley, Council Member, West St. Paul
Alice Hausman, State Representative, St. Paul
Athena Hollins, State Representative, St. Paul
Fue Lee, State Representative, St. Paul
Jamie Long, State Representative, Minneapolis
Michael Nelson, State Representative, Brooklyn Park, Hennepin County

Mississippi

Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor, Jackson
Hillman Frazier, State Senator, Jackson

Missouri

Barbara Buffaloe, Mayor, Columbia
Bridget Walsh Moore, State Representative, St. Louis
Steven Roberts, State Senator, St. Louis
Trish Gunby, State Representative, Manchester

Montana

Connie Keogh, State Representative, Missoula

Nebraska

Megan Hunt, State Senator, Lincoln
Christa Yoakum, County Commissioner, Lincoln
John McCollister, State Senator, Omaha

Nevada

Jenny Brekhus, Council Member, Reno
Howard Watts, Assemblymember, Las Vegas

New Hampshire

Susan Almy, State Representative, Lebanon
Mary Heath, State Representative, Manchester
Frances Nutter-Upham, State Representative, Nashua
Mary Jane Wallner, State Representative, Concord

New Jersey

Donald Shaw, Mayor, Roselle
Michael Wildes, Mayor, Englewood
Patrick Antonetti, Council Member, Lincoln Park
Charnette Frederic, Council Member, Irvington
George Harcilla, Council Member, Dumont
Raj Mukherji, Assemblymember, Jersey City

New Mexico

Gail Rottenstrich, Council Member, Fair Lawn
Bill Tallman, State Senator, Albuquerque
Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, State Senator, Albuquerque

New York

Alexa Avilés, Council Member, Brooklyn
April Baskin, County Chairwoman, Buffalo
Alessandra Biaggi, State Senator, Westchester/Bronx
Jeremy Cooney, State Senator, Rochester
Jorge DeFendini, Council Member, Ithaca
Harvey Epstein, Assemblymember, New York
Patricia Fahy, Assemblymember, Albany
Jessica González-Rojas, Assemblymember, East Elmhurst
Andrew Gounardes, State Senator, Brooklyn
Shahana Hanif, Council Member, Brooklyn
Crystal Hudson, Council Member, Brooklyn
Pamela Hunter, Assemblymember, Syracuse
Rita Joseph, Council Member, New York
Anna Kelles, Assemblymember, Ithaca
John Mannion, State Senator, Syracuse
Rachel May, State Senator, Syracuse
Sandy Nurse, Council Member, Brooklyn
Gustavo Rivera, State Senator, Bronx
Jonathan Rivera, Assemblymember, Buffalo
Sean Ryan, State Senator, Buffalo
Michaelle Solages, Assemblymember, Elmont

North Carolina

Pam Hemminger, Mayor, Chapel Hill
Elaine O’Neal, Mayor, Durham
Damon Seils, Mayor, Carrboro
Javiera Caballero, Council Member, Durham
Heidi Carter, County Commissioner, Durham
Caleb Rudow, State Representative, Asheville
Pricey Harrison, State Representative, Greensboro

North Dakota

Tim Mathern, State Senator, Fargo

Ohio

Justin Bibb, Mayor, Cleveland
Aftab Pureval, Mayor, Cincinnati
Meghan George, Mayor, Lakewood
Annette Blackwell, Mayor, Maple Heights
Nickie J. Antonio, State Senator, Cleveland
Armond Budish, County Executive, Cleveland
Tina Maharath, State Senator, Canal Winchester
Dale Miller, County Councilperson, Cleveland

Oklahoma

JoBeth Hamon, Council Member, Oklahoma City
Carri Hicks, State Senator, Oklahoma City
Cyndi Munson, State Representative, Oklahoma City

Oregon

Ted Wheeler, Mayor, Portland
Sara Gelser Blouin, State Senator, Corvallis and Albany
Michael Dembrow, State Senator, Portland
Dacia Grayber, State Representative, Portland
Nadia Hasan, Council Member, Beaverton
Zach Hudson, State Representative, Troutdale
Mingus Mapps, Council Member, Portland
Sharon Meieran, County Commissioner, Portland
Deb Patterson, State Senator, Salem
Susheela Jayapal, County Commissioner, Portland
Lori Stegmann, County Commissioner, Gresham
Jessica Vega Pederson, County Commissioner, Portland
Marty Wilde, State Representative, Eugene
Anna Williams, State Representative, Hood River

Pennsylvania

Paige Cognetti, Mayor, Scranton
Danene Sorace, Mayor, Lancaster
Kendra Brooks, Council Member, Philadelphia
Phil Daniels, School Board President, Norristown
Monica D’Antonio, School Board Vice President, Norristown
Janet Diaz, Council Member, Lancaster
Derek Green, Council Member, Philadelphia
Helen Gym, Council Member, Philadelphia
Joseph Hohenstein, State Representative, Philadelphia
Christopher Jaramillo, School Board Member, Norristown
Sharon Mauch, School Board Director, Norristown
Ingrid Parker, School Board Director, East Norriton
Michael Schlossberg, State Representative, Allentown
Mark Squilla, Council Member, Philadelphia

Puerto Rico

William Villafañe, State Senator, Bayamon

Rhode Island

Alana DiMario, State Senator, Narragansett
David Morales, State Representative, Providence

South Carolina

Meghan Smith, Council Member, Spartanburg

South Dakota

Reynold Nesiba, State Senator, Sioux Falls

Tennessee

John Rutherford, Council Member, Nashville
Seema Singh, Council Member, Knoxville
Colby Sledge, Council Member, Nashville
Zulfat Suara, Council Member, Nashville

Texas

Sylvester Turner, Mayor, Houston
Vikki Goodwin, State Representative, Austin
Thresa Meza, State Representative, Irving
Ana Sandoval, Council Member, San Antonio
Chris Turner, State Representative, Arlington

Utah

Jani Iwamoto, State Senator, Salt Lake City
Dan Johnson, State Representative, Logan
Gay Lynn Bennion, State Representative, Cottonwood Heights
Raymond Ward, State Representative, Bountiful
Steve Waldrip, State Representative, Eden

Vermont

Sarita Austin, State Representative, Colchester
Sarah Copeland Hanzas, State Representative, Bradford
Mari Cordes, State Representative, Lincoln
Kesha Ram Hinsdale, State Senator, Shelburne
Robin Scheu, State Representative, Middlebury
Michael Yantachka, State Representative, Charlotte

Virginia

Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Delegate, Alexandria
Creigh Deeds, State Senator, Charlottesville
Ghazala Hashmi, State Senator, Richmond
Sally Hudson, Delegate, Charlottesville
Mark Keam, Delegate, Vienna
Kaye Kory, Delegate, Falls Church
Michelle Maldonado, Delegate, Bristow/Manassas
Sam Rasoul, Delegate, Roanoke
Sal Romero, Council Member, Harrisonburg
Irene Shin, Delegate, Herndon
Shelly Simonds, Delegate, Newport News
Kathy Tran, Delegate, Springfield
Rodney Willet, Delegate, Henrico

Washington

Bruce Harrell, Mayor, Seattle
Janice Deccio, Mayor, Yakima
Amy Falcone, Council Member, Kirkland
Jessica Forsythe, Council President, Redmond
Matthew Hepner, Council Member, East Wenatchee
George Hurst, Council Member, Lynnwood
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Council Member, Seattle
Liz Lovelett, State Senator, Anacortes
Senayet Negusse, Deputy Mayor, SeaTac
Jamie Pedersen, State Senator, Seattle
Cindy Ryu, State Representative, Shoreline
Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative, Olympia
Girmay Zahilay, County Commissioner, Seattle

West Virginia

David Harshbarger, Council Member, Morgantown
Cody Thompson, Delegate, Elkins

Wisconsin

Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor, Madison
Keith Furman, Council Member, Madison
Patrick Heck, Council Member, Madison
Francesca Hong, State Representative, Madison
Michael Verveer, Council Member, Madison

Wyoming

Dan Zwonitzer, State Representative, Cheyenne

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