Wyden, Merkley Denounce Trump Administration’s Historically Low Refugee Resettlement Goal

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today denounced the Trump administration’s proposal to cap refugee admissions at 15,000 for Fiscal Year 2021—the lowest ceiling in the history of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program —and urged the administration to restore refugee admissions to their long-standing historic average.

“The United States has a long, bipartisan legacy of providing refugees protection through resettlement—prior to 2016 we resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year,” Wyden, Merkley and 21 Senate colleagues wrote in a letter to Secretaries Michael Pompeo and Alex Azar and Under Secretary Chad Wolf.

“Yet, during this time of soaring global resettlement needs, this Administration has once again abdicated America’s global leadership role by further reducing the refugee admissions ceiling to its lowest level in the 40-year history of the program,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to substantially increase the refugee admissions target for FY 2021, and end the current suspension of the refugee resettlement program.”

The lawmakers highlighted the importance of a strong resettlement program, which serves as an essential lifeline for the most vulnerable among the 29.6 million refugees worldwide while also strengthening our communities and economy. In addition, the senators affirmed the importance of U.S. leadership on resettlement as a powerful tool to garner greater global support for refugees facing persecution.

“American leadership in refugee resettlement is critical in securing greater global support for this important lifeline, which is available to less than one percent of all refugees,” the senators added. “As this Administration has slashed its annual refugee admissions goals, other leading resettlement countries have followed suit and lowered their resettlement numbers as well.”

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, others signing the letter led by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, were U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Coons (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

The entire letter is here.