LIRS Calls on President Biden to Issue Revised Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions
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LIRS Calls on President Biden to Issue Revised Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions

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LIRS Calls on President Biden to Issue Revised Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions


March 17, 2021

Contact: Timothy Young | | 443-257-6310

Washington D.C. – Today, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) calls upon President Biden to officially issue its revised presidential determination on refugee admissions for Fiscal Year 2021. The Biden administration had previously previewed plans to raise the admissions ceiling from the record-low 15,000 set by former President Trump to 62,500.

The lack of a revised presidential determination has resulted in the cancellation of at least 700 refugees’ resettlement flights that were booked by the State Department in anticipation of new refugee policy. The administration fulfilled its legal obligation to consult with Congress as of February 12, 2021, but has yet to take official action in issuing a revised refugee admissions ceiling and categorical allocations.

The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving vulnerable immigrant communities and one of just nine refugee resettlement agencies in the U.S.:

“For hundreds of families, the joy of a tearful airport reunion must wait until a new presidential determination modifies how many and which categories of refugees can be resettled in the U.S. Refugees we were ready to welcome have, in some cases, sold all of their belongings and relinquished their accommodation in camps, only to find themselves stranded with no resettlement in sight.

The administration’s rhetoric and initial executive action sent an encouraging message to the world, raising hope that the U.S. would expeditiously reclaim its reputation as a bastion of refuge. That message has unfortunately been muddled, and that hope dashed by the facts on the ground thus far. Former President Trump may be out of the Oval Office, but for the time being, his restrictive policy prevails. We strongly encourage President Biden to take this executive action; otherwise his ambitious plan, as laudable as it is, remains a proposal – not policy.

With nearly 80 million displaced worldwide, 1.4 million of whom are in urgent need of resettlement according to the UNHCR, this is no time to delay the lifesaving work of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program – an historically bipartisan initiative that has welcomed approximately 3.5 million refugees to the U.S. since its inception in 1980.

Today, exactly 41 years after President Carter signed the Refugee Act – legislation co-sponsored by then-Senator Biden – we call upon the administration to issue its revised presidential determination on refugee admissions. For the sake of thousands of children and families whose lives hang in the balance, there is no time to wait.”

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