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Stand up for refugees and our proud tradition of resettlement!

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Refugees in transit from the border with DRC to Rwamwanja, Uganda - DFID/FlickrDear MIRA members, supporters and friends:

Yesterday we learned that the Trump administration has set a cap of 18,000 for refugee admissions in the fiscal year that begins next Tuesday. This is a record low for the modern U.S. refugee resettlement program – and less than one-fifth the average over the program’s four-decade history.

As of Sept. 20, more than 29,800 refugees had been admitted to the U.S. in fiscal 2019. Since trying and failing to ban refugees early in 2017, the Trump administration has rapidly reduced the cap from the 110,000 level set by former President Obama in his last year: first to 45,000, then to 30,000. In a move that is likely to further hinder resettlements, the White House also issued an executive order yesterday that requires state and local governments to consent to receiving most refugees.

We face a global displacement crisis, with a record 70.8 million people forced to leave their homes, including 25.9 million refugees who’ve had to leave their own countries. The numbers are rising rapidly, driven by war, political repression, religious persecution, disasters, and climate change impacts.

These refugees are fleeing desperate, horrific situations. Many have lost everything, and would face likely death if they returned home. Most go only as far as the nearest safe country, so worldwide, it is mainly countries much poorer than the U.S. that are hosting the largest numbers of refugees. But the U.S. plays a crucial role. For decades, we have resettled more refugees than any other country, because we have the means and capacity to do it. And those refugees have become valued members of our communities.

Under this administration, the U.S. has not only renounced its role as a global leader in resettlement – it’s become openly hostile to refugees. The travel and refugee ban, extreme vetting, the ever-lower caps, all have sent the message: refugees are not welcome in America anymore. And with this new cap of 18,000 and a requirement that local and state governments consent to refugee resettlement, it’s doubling down on a message of hate and fear.

Not only is the human impact devastating; the damage will be long-lasting. Refugee resettlement programs across the U.S. and in Massachusetts have been decimated by the cuts in recent years. They have had to lay off staff, shut down offices and close programs. This capacity can’t be easily restored.

On Tuesday, MIRA and Oxfam will co-host a roundtable discussion with refugee resettlement agencies, advocates, refugees, and political leaders to send a strong message that the cap must be raised, and attacks on refugees must stop. We urge Congress to step up and support legislation to ensure that the U.S. truly does its part to meet the urgent global need for refugee resettlement. And we urge political leaders in Massachusetts and across the nation to step up and demand that the Trump administration raise the FY2020 cap, and to speak out in defense of refugees. This is a test of our collective moral character.

Thank you for your continued support, and for all your own work to advance justice and inclusion in Massachusetts and beyond!

With appreciation,
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Eva A. Millona
Executive Director

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