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Bishops 'disturbed' by historically low cap on refugee admissions

'We can and must do better,' they tell Trump Administration and Congress

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WASHINGTON | On Sept. 27, the Trump Administration, in a consultation with Congress, proposed to only admit up to 45,000 refugees to the United States in fiscal year 2018.

This Presidential Determination (PD) for Refugee Admissions is the lowest since the founding of the program in 1980 and marks the second consecutive year that the new administration has reduced the PD. Currently, there are 65 million displaced people and 22 million refugees worldwide. 

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Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, chairman of the U. S. Bishops' Committee on Migration, issued the following statement: 

“We are disturbed and deeply disappointed by the proposed Presidential Determination number of 45,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. While the Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities, and Catholic communities across the country join in welcoming all of those refugees to American communities with joy and open arms, we are gravely concerned for the tens of thousands of extremely vulnerable refugees left behind by this decision.  

“As I have stated before, this decision has very severe human consequences—people with faces, names, children and families are suffering and cannot safely or humanely remain where they are until the war and persecution in their countries of origin gets resolved. These people include at-risk women and children; frightened youth; the elderly; those whose lives are threatened because of their religion, ethnicity or race; and refugees seeking family reunification with loved ones in the United States.  

“Each refugee that comes to the United States is admitted through an extensive vetting system. Many of these refugees already have family in the United States, and most begin working immediately to rebuild their lives; in turn contributing to the strength and richness of our society. God has blessed our country with bounty and precious liberty, and so we have great capacity to welcome those in such desperate need, while ensuring our nation's security. 

“The same day of the consultation, Pope Francis exhorted us to ‘reach out, open your arms to migrants and refugees, share the journey.’We urge the administration to move past this period of intensified scrutiny and skepticism of the U.S. refugee program, which serves as an international model. This is a moment of opportunity to restore America’s historic leadership as a refuge for those fleeing persecution.  We urge the administration to welcome and resettle every one of the refugees eventually authorized for FY2018. Looking ahead, we strongly urge the administration next year to return to the level of resettling at least 75,000 refugees annually to the United States. We can and must do better.”

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