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Press Release // Refugee Resettlement

LIRS Fiercely Opposes Administration’s Proposal of a Zero-Figure Refugee Ceiling in 2020

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LIRS Staff

July 18, 2019

Press Contact: Timothy Young | | 443-257-6310

As the Administration prepares to announce a new ceiling for refugee arrivals in Fiscal Year 2020, reports emerged today that the White House is seriously considering effectively shuttering the U.S. refugee resettlement program by setting the refugee ceiling at zero.

“It is horrifying to think that, by the stroke of a pen, the President can make a decision that will destroy a legacy of welcome that has been centuries in the making,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), one of just nine voluntary agencies currently charged with resettlement in the U.S. “LIRS has been doing this work for 80 years. We have seen firsthand the life-changing impact of this crucial program.”

The Administration’s proposal to zero out the refugee ceiling offers chilling insight into the President’s intentions to walk away from the United States’ historic responsibility to refugees, dating back to the immigrants who came to the U.S. fleeing the horrors of World War II.

“As people of faith – and people with deep immigrant roots – it has fallen to the Lutheran community, and communities of faith all across this country, to stand up to this grave threat to our country’s moral standing,” said LIRS Board Chair, Bp. Michael Rinehart.“Closing our doors to refugees would risk the lives of tens of thousands of men, women, and children across the globe. These are our brothers and sisters, children of God, who were born into situations of unimaginable violence and are desperately in need of our mercy, our compassion.”

But this is more than just a referendum on our country’s compassion. The decision to close our doors to refugees could have devastating political effects both domestically and internationally.

“Setting the U.S. refugee ceiling at zero would be an egregious assault on fundamental American values. And quite frankly, the humanitarian implications of this decision would be enough to nullify our global reputation as leaders of the free world,” said Vignarajah. “The President simply cannot afford to move forward with this proposal – not if he seeks ongoing support from people of faith all across the United States.”

Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) is one of the largest immigration and refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership working with and advocating for refugees, asylum seekers,unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through 80 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.

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