Earlier this week we alerted you that the House of Representatives was to consider funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 (called a continuing resolution because the federal government has not passed a budget for this current year) during the week beginning February 14. Well, the numbers are in and they are alarming. The proposed cuts to this year’s program are up to 45% of the overall budget within the Department of State that oversees and funds both international and domestic refugee programs. The effects of these cuts are unknown but will certainly entail a decrease in access to this program for refugees in dire need.
Refugee resettlement is a life saving solution for a fraction of the world’s 15 million refugees. Ideally people who are displaced from their home countries live in camps for a short period of time and return once their country has stabilized. If the conflict drags on indefinitely, attempts are made to integrate the refugees into the second country to which they fled. Refugees are resettled to a third country, like the United States, if these other options are not possible.
In many ways the United States embodies the last true hope for a refugee who has been uprooted from all that they knew and rejected by the country they fled to. As the world leader in providing protection and assistance to the most vulnerable victims of world conflicts, the United States has a honorable tradition in providing safe-haven, and now is no time to reduce our role in rebuilding lives.
If we cut funds in such a drastic manner what we ultimately do is close our doors to those desperate for a normal live for them and their families. We would also fail to show the leadership we have always been lauded for, standing up for the vulnerable and the persecuted.
Here is a small sample of the proposed cuts so that you have a better idea of what is on the chopping block:
– $76 million in funds for the from the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a program that serves refugees, unaccompanied children, and survivors of torture and trafficking in the United States
– $830 million in funding for refugee protection and assistance provided the Department of State
Please call or write your members of Congress and urge them to oppose any cuts to refugee funding. Tell personal stories about the refugees you know or work with to help put a face on the refugee program.
As many parts of the world continue to be overrun by the forces of hatred, division and conflict, let us not close our doors and fail our most desperate neighbors.