People who are persecuted in their native countries, whether for their religion, ethnicity, gender identity, or other reasons, may flee for their lives and become “refugees.” This is a U.N.-designated definition, and with it refugees are allowed to enter a process in which a new country will offer them a second start. Refugees often wait years or even decades in temporary “camps” in other countries before they have an opportunity to join a new home.
The Donald Trump administration has cut the number of refugees the U.S. accepts by more than 80%, an all-time low. I want Congress and the administration to know our community supports refugees and wants to help more people fleeing persecution start over safely. The administration is required by U.S. law to consult with leaders of Congress before setting next year’s refugee admissions goal. I am calling on Rep. Mike Garcia and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris to send a clear message to the administration: Restore refugee resettlement in the U.S. to the historic norm of 95,000 per year.
Refugees have contributed greatly to America in ordinary times and have continued to show up for their new communities during the COVID-19 crisis. More than 176,000 refugees serve as health care workers and 175,000 play vital roles in our nation’s food supply chain.
We often romanticize the founding of our nation and tell ourselves we are a beacon of hope for refugees. The truth is, sometimes we have provided a safe haven for the world’s persecuted, and sometimes we have been on the wrong side of history. Now, let’s do the right thing and welcome more refugees into the American family.