As the Trump administration reportedly considers further cuts to U.S. refugee admissions, the leader of the U.S. bishops’ migration committee has stated his opposition to any such plan.
Any “further reductions in the number of refugees” accepted into the U.S. “would be wholly counter to our values as a nation of immigrants,” Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration said on Friday, in a joint statement with conference president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
The bishops were responding to reports by the New York Times that the White House is considering further reductions to U.S. refugee admissions from the current cap of 30,000, which is already the lowest cap on record for the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
Some of the reported considerations range from accepting zero refugees altogether, unless in case of emergency, to reducing the admissions cap to a range of 10-15,000. In July, POLITICO also reported that administration security officials had suggested in a meeting of lowering the cap on refugee admissions to 10-15,000, or even zero.
The administration’s previous ceiling for refugee admissions for FY 2018 was 45,000; in FY 2017, the Obama administration set the ceiling at 110,000 but the Trump administration instituted a freeze of the resettlement program, and ultimately admitted 53,716 refugees.
The current cap on refugee acceptance for the 2019 fiscal year is 30,000; as of August 31, the U.S. had accepted 28,062 refugees for FY 2019, according to State Department data.
“America welcomes refugees; that is who we are, that is what we do. Such reductions would undermine America’s leadership role as a global champion and protector of religious freedom and human rights,” Vasquez and DiNardo said.
They cited the Catholic Church’s history of helping resettle refuges in the U.S., “beginning with European refugees in the aftermath of World War I.”
“The 3.4 million refugees that America has welcomed since 1975 have paid billions of dollars in taxes, founded companies, earned citizenship, and bought homes at notably high rates,” the statement added.
“As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 29th, we are reminded of Pope Francis urging us all to work for a ‘globalization of solidarity’ with refugees, not a globalization of ‘indifference’,” they said.