It is just days before an Oct. 1 deadline for the president of the United States to issue a “Presidential Determination” (PD) on the numb...
It is just days before an Oct. 1 deadline for the president of the United States to issue a “Presidential Determination” (PD) on the number of refugees who will be allowed into the country in the next federal fiscal year.
The average number per year since the landmark Refugee Act of 1980 was passed has been 95,000. The Trump administration whittled that down to 18,000 last year, and there are signals that the number this coming year will be less, if there is a number at all.
Two weeks out, and the administration apparently has yet to consult with either the State Department or with Congress, as required by the law, which laid out a consultative process toward refugee resettlement.
Throughout the country, refugee resettlement agencies established by the law are being fiscally starved, which has led to layoffs of caseworkers, language teachers and employment counselors whose jobs have been to assist refugees successfully establish new lives in the “land of the free.” In our area, Jewish Family Services, Catholic Charities and Ascentria (the Lutheran resettlement agency) all are feeling the pinch.
Hundreds of volunteers in Hampshire County have in recent years been recruited by Catholic Charities into “circles of care” to support a score of refugee families. In Hampden County, Jewish Family Services and Ascentria have been active in resettling hundreds of families. Support for the work of these agencies is needed now more than ever, according to HIAS.
HIAS is the acronym for the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society, one of the oldest and most effective of the agencies committed to the cause of refugee resettlement. HIAS held a conference last week intended to cast light on the crisis facing the national refugee program and to lay out avenues for concerned citizens to take action to preserve, expand and strengthen it.
Go to HIAS.org to sign a petition that the number of permitted refugees be increased, to join the “Vote for Welcome” campaign to press political candidates to address the issue, and to encourage local and state officials to sign on in support of this effort.
Some 4 million refugees have entered the U.S since the 1980 act, and their positive contributions to American society are multitudinous, broad and deep. To a nation of immigrants, they have brought an infusion of just the sort of fresh energy, imagination and extraordinary work ethic that, from the beginning, “made America great.”