Our office just wrapped up its second year of World Refugee Day celebrations where we partnered with local organizations to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of the more than 60,000 refugees who now call Sacramento home. We started June 8th with a refugee soccer tournament and finished our celebrations July 13th at the Sacramento Republic FC home match with a trophy presentation to the winning refugee team in front of thousands.
This should be an exciting and hopeful time in our community. For the last six weeks, we have seen you stand with the most vulnerable and continue to extend welcome to our newest neighbors. However, on the heels of our World Refugee Day events Politico released this devastating report. According to sources inside Washington D.C., the current administration is considering lowering the refugee ceiling to zero. Zero, as in no new refugees would be able to come to Sacramento or any other major U.S. city from October 2019-September 2020.
Our current extreme refugee vetting procedures take several years on average to complete, which is why we currently see nearly 140,000 people in varying levels of processing. Halting or even pausing the refugee program would disrupt the already established pipeline and could debilitate the resettlement program for years to come. The effects of an unfavorable Presidential Determination could not be easily reversed.
Sacramento has received thousands of refugees in the past several years through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which helps Afghans and Iraqis who have worked with the United States military come to the U.S. safely. In a previously unpublished letter Former Defense Secretary Jim Matthis urged the administration not to abdicate our commitment to the Iraqis who provided the U.S. with critical mission support during our 17-year battle against terrorism. There are currently more than 100,000 of these applicants processing and waiting to legally enter the U.S. Under the new proposal they would remain in the queue indefinitely.
With figures from the State Department revealing only 22,456 refugees have arrived in the U.S as of July 12th and only three months left in Fiscal Year 2019 we are already operating at historically low levels. World Relief is calling for a restoration of the refugee ceiling to at least 85,000, which is the average we have seen since 1980 when Ronald Reagan began the refugee program as we know it. With forced global migration and refugee populations increasing due to persecution and war worldwide, your partnership in the work of World Relief is more important than ever.
What can you do? Help us move from a collective voice of “that’s sad” to “this cannot happen.” Here are four practical ways to help now:
- Pray for our nation, for our representatives and for the refugees in camps unable to return home who are waiting for a chance to start a new life
- Call congress at 202.224.3121 to reach the Capital Switchboard and get connected to your Members of Congress. Please call THREE times to reach your 2 senators and 1 representative. Tell them of your support for the refugee program – it’s simple!
- Advocate. Don't stay silent. Many are unaware that this legal, safe, proven good for the economy, and life-giving program could be shut down amidst all the partisan talk. Let them know and help them understand how to support.
- Give to support advocacy efforts or to support the refugees here by providing the programs that help as they start their new lives
Together our voices can make a difference. Please join us in standing with the most vulnerable.