The Obama Administration recently requested that Congress enact a $3.7 billion Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which includes $1.83 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR); $1.1 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement; $433 million for Customs and Border Protection; $300 million for the State Department; and $64 million for the Department of Justice.
ORR serves many vulnerable new Americans, including refugees and asylees. ORR is also responsible for providing care to the growing number of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America and seeking safety in the United States. As the number of children arriving has exceeded projections, ORR has addressed its budget shortfall by reprogramming $94 million from refugee services to serve these children. Refugee services are already underfunded, and these cuts are having devastating consequences for refugees and their communities. We urge Congress to act quickly to approve the increased funding requested for ORR, and to make clear that funding for refugee services should not be programmed or reduced — not this year, and not in the future.
We urge Congress to provide more funds to the Department of Justice to increase legal services for unaccompanied children in the United States. We are also deeply concerned that the President seeks to expand the detention of families, allowing the government to detain more than 6,000 members of families. LIRS stands ready to work constructively with the government to develop humane and appropriate alternatives to incarcerating families.
We additionally call on members of Congress to oppose amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. They should stand firm for trafficking and asylum protections for unaccompanied children. Children seeking refuge deserve our protection and compassion.
Members of Congress need to hear from people of faith today:
- CONTACT your Representative and Senators by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or finding their direct office lines on their websites at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. Tell them:
- As your constituent in [city, state], I care about refugees, unaccompanied children and other vulnerable populations.
- I urge you to support the $1.83 billion increase for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, requested in the President’s Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Request for Fiscal Year 2014. The U.S. must show leadership by protecting unaccompanied children while maintaining our commitment to refugee resettlement.
- The Department of Justice also must receive funding sufficient to provide children with access to legal services.
- I am also deeply opposed to incarcerating children and families who have arrived at our borders seeking refuge.
- I urge you to oppose any changes to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008—children fleeing violence and seeking refuge deserve compassionate treatment, not detention, and meaningful access to protection and legal relief.
- MEET with your Representative and Senators and their local staff. A toolkit for meeting with your Members of Congress can be found at rcusa.org/wrd2014. The LIRS DC office is available to help you strategize about meeting with your Members of Congress and their staff. Send us an email at DC@lirs.org
- WRITE your Representative and Senators. You can view sample letters and take action online through the LIRS Action Center.