Ahead of New Refugee Ceiling: Evangelical Leaders Urge Biden, Congress to Rebuild Resettlement Program
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Prominent evangelical leaders today sent a letter to the president and congressional leaders, urging them to work together to rebuild and restore the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.
The letter comes as President Biden prepares to consult with Congress regarding the annual ceiling for refugee admissions in fiscal year 2023.
“As evangelical Christians whose ultimate authority is the Bible, we believe that refugees are human beings made in God’s image with inherent dignity, are neighbors whom our Lord commands us to love and are vulnerable individuals who merit special protections,” per the letter. “The U.S. refugee resettlement program has been a vital tool to protect vulnerable refugees, and we urge you to ensure it is rebuilt after several years of historically low refugee admissions levels.”
The letter affirms the ceiling of 125,000 refugee admissions that the State Department has recommended to President Biden, while also noting that setting a relatively high refugee ceiling is insufficient on its own. Despite a cap of 125,000 in the current fiscal year, which ends next week, the U.S. is on track to receive fewer than 25,000 refugees. Although the Biden administration utilized other legal avenues to admit many Afghans and Ukrainians who have fled persecution in the past year, the leaders call on the administration and Congress to rebuild the formal refugee resettlement process and develop “processes nimble enough to respond to emerging crises as well as protracted refugee situations.”
Rebuilding the U.S. refugee resettlement program, the leaders argue, could also help relieve pressures at the U.S.-Mexico border, where the increase in asylum seekers from Venezuela, Cuba and other countries with authoritarian regimes has created significant humanitarian challenges. The letter urges the administration to increase refugee resettlement from these countries significantly, while also affirming the importance of ensuring due process for those who seek asylum at the border.
The following are quotes from leaders of evangelical organizations who signed the letter:
Galen Carey, Vice President of Government Relations, National Association of Evangelicals:
“Since 1980, the refugee resettlement program has been the crown jewel of American humanitarianism. The United States has offered lifesaving protection and renewed hope to more than three million courageous human beings who are now valued members of our communities. But more urgently needs to be done. President Biden has articulated a compelling vision; now his administration must surge the processing capacity necessary to make this inspiring vision a reality for refugees whose lives are still on hold.”
Myal Greene, President and CEO, World Relief:
“At a moment when there are more refugees globally than at any time in recorded history, we need ongoing leadership from the U.S. government to rebuild the U.S. refugee resettlement program. In partnership with hundreds of local churches, World Relief is eager and ready to welcome more refugees and ensure they have the support that they need to integrate into new communities and thrive.”
Brent Leatherwood, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
“America has always been known as a refuge for those fleeing religious persecution or for their very lives. But, for too long now, our refugee resettlement program that aids these individuals and families seeking safety has languished. We have allowed unrelated crises and political turmoil to hamper the rebuilding of this important initiative. That must not continue, and I would urge the administration and Congress to come together now to ensure it doesn’t.”
Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition:
“As Christians who believe that each human person is made in the image of God, we insist that our country should offer lifesaving protections to those who have fled persecution in their countries of origin. One vital way that our nation can do so is by rebuilding the U.S. refugee resettlement program.”