Immigration Law

The US Refugee Resettlement Program — A Return to First Principles: How Refugees Help to Define, Strengthen, and Revitalize the United States

Donald Kerwin, 2018 - "The US refugee resettlement program should be a source of immense national pride. The program has saved countless lives; put millions of impoverished persons on a path to work, self-sufficiency, and integration; and advanced US standing in the world. Its beneficiaries have included US leaders in science, medicine, business, the law, government, education, and the arts, as well as countless others who have strengthened the nation’s social fabric through their work, family, faith, and community commitments. Refugees embody the ideals of freedom, endurance, and self-sacrifice, and their presence closes the gap between US ideals and its practices. For these reasons, the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has enjoyed strong, bipartisan support for nearly 40 years. Yet the current administration has taken aim at this program as part of a broader attack on legal immigration programs. It has treated refugees as a burden and a potential threat to our nation, rather than as a source of strength, renewal, and inspiration. In September 2017, it set an extremely low refugee admissions ceiling (45,000) for 2018, which it had no intention of meeting: the United States is on pace to resettle fewer than half of that number. It has also tightened special clearance procedures for refugees from mostly Muslim-majority states so that virtually none can enter; cynically slow-walked the interview, screening, and admissions processes; and decimated the community-based resettlement infrastructure built up throughout many decades (Miliband 2018). At a time of record levels of forced displacement in the world, the United States should model solidarity with refugees and exercise leadership in global refugee protection efforts (Francis 2018a, 102). Instead, the administration has put the United States on pace to resettle the lowest number of refugees in USRAP’s 38- year history, with possible further cuts in fiscal year (FY) 2019. This article describes the myriad ways in which this program serves US interests and values."