As President Biden prepares for his announcement later this month on the number of refugees the United States will admit over the coming fiscal year, Oxfam calls on him to respond to the urgency of the moment by committing to resettling 200,000 refugees.
“At this inflection point in our nation’s history, with our founding values and the lives of tens of thousands of people on the line, we call on President Biden to make a bold investment in refugee resettlement and welcome as many as 200,000 refugees this coming fiscal year,” said Noah Gottschalk, Oxfam America’s Global Policy Lead.
Before the beginning of each fiscal year in October, the President issues a Presidential Determination on the target number of refugees to be resettled in the US over the next twelve months. Prior to the Trump administration, successive Democratic and Republican presidents set an average annual refugee admission target of 95,000 people.
President Trump, however, decimated the bipartisan US refugee admissions program, announcing a lower Presidential Determination every year of his administration, culminating in the historic low of just 15,000 in his final year in office. During his presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden committed to build back our refugee system and resettle at least 125,000 refugees during his first full fiscal year as President, a commitment he reaffirmed in May. However, the Biden administration’s slow action to date has left thousands of refugees out in the cold and is even more inappropriate in light of the growing need to provide safety and protection to newly-displaced Afghan families.
“President Biden’s original goal of admitting 125,000 people is simply no longer an appropriate commitment in light of the current moment and scale of global need,” continued Gottschalk. “The United States cannot simply turn its back on families forced to make the last-resort decision to flee their homes in search of safety. Afghan refugees, and refugees around the world, make the difficult decision to leave everything behind in the absence of any other safe or viable option.”
Refugee resettlement is a life-saving tool that has stood for decades as tangible proof of the American promise to uphold the human rights of all people, according to Oxfam.
“While it is no substitute for political solutions to the growing global displacement crisis, welcoming 200,000 people is the least that the wealthiest nation on earth can do to meet its responsibility to people in need of refuge,” said Gottschalk. “By opening our doors to people who have fled persecution, the US demonstrates belief in the inherent dignity of all human beings and its willingness to be an example to the world of protecting the most vulnerable among us.”