Why Should Americans Care About Refugee Resettlement? We Asked U.S. Rep. Judy Chu

The number of refugees resettled every year in the United States is at the lowest level since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program began in 1980. With fewer refugees, a vital piece of the fabric of American society is at risk of disappearing. Refugees are our neighbors. They revitalize our economies. They are in frontline jobs in healthcare, teaching, and the food industry that have kept our country afloat through COVID-19. Refugees fleeing unspeakable violence and persecution come to the United States with hope for a new future. And in pursuing that hope, they give back in countless ways.

This month, the Trump administration stands to make a decision on the number of refugees who may be resettled here in the next fiscal year. Refugees International is fiercely advocating that the administration do what is right for America and for the world: welcome refugees.

But don’t just take our word for it.

We asked U.S. Representative Judy Chu why the world needs a robust U.S. refugee resettlement program.

U.S. Representative Judy Chu:

Hello, I’m Congresswoman Judy Chu, representing the 27th district in southern California. Our country has a proud history of accepting refugees.

As a leader of democracy, we’ve tried to fulfill our humanitarian duty to provide opportunities for people seeking refuge. That’s why when our bipartisan refugee program was first established, the U.S. took in over 200,000 refugees per year. And we are better off for it. Refugees have enriched our communities and our country. In recent years, thousands of families, including women and children, have fled from Syria, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, because of violence, political instability, and persecution, and have asked the U.S. for asylum.

We know we have the space to take them in and the capacity to vet them. However, the Trump administration has waged a war on all immigrants and refugees that’s had terrible consequences. The administration has ended in-country processing, which allowed individuals to apply for refugee status in their home countries, and they’ve made it more difficult for individuals to apply for asylum who come to the U.S. at the border.

In addition, the administration has dramatically reduced the number of refugee visas granted each year. There was a time in 2016 when almost 85,000 refugees were safely and successfully admitted into the U.S. But with the Trump administration, the refugee ceiling in 2020 was capped at 18,000. However, due to COVID-19 and other travel restrictions, the refugees resettled in the U.S. this year, has been even less: only 9,000.

I’m committed to ensuring that refugees are welcome to the U.S. Not only is it the right thing to do, but refugees also have the potential to contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. And that is why I proudly authored the NO BAN Act, which would rescind the executive order calling for extreme vetting for refugees, as well as all versions of the Muslim Bans. It also ensures that the president cannot prevent individuals from entering the U.S. solely based on their religion or national origin. I’m also a proud cosponsor of the GRACE Act, which would raise the refugee admissions ceiling to at least 95,000 per year.

We must restore American dignity and our standing in the international community by ensuring that displaced individuals fleeing unimaginable conditions in their home countries, are welcomed here in the U.S. It’s the right thing for these families and it’s the right thing for our country.