U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Welcomes Administration’s Continued Commitment to Refugee Resettlement, Urges Congress to Maintain Bipartisan Support

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WASHINGTON – On September 29, 2023, President Biden signed a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions that allows for welcoming up to 125,000 refugees during Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, beginning October 1, 2023. The Presidential Determination serves as an annual goal for the number of refugees resettled through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). The number for FY 2024 is level with the goals for FY 2022 and FY 2023, though it includes a substantial increase in the regional allocation for refugees resettled from Latin America/the Caribbean, paired with a decreased allocation for refugees from Europe/Central Asia.

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“We commend the Biden Administration for its ongoing efforts to ensure the United States is a global leader in refugee resettlement and international humanitarian protection. Resettlement is a lifeline for the world’s most vulnerable refugees, and those same refugees have proven time and time again their ability to enrich the communities that welcome them. Many American Catholics can attest to these facts as resettled refugees, the descendants of refugees, or those at the forefront of our Church’s longstanding resettlement efforts.

“This year’s Presidential Determination remains an ambitious and meaningful goal as we reflect not only on the global need but also the challenges facing American communities, including labor shortages, a lack of affordable housing, and high inflation. We welcome the Administration’s efforts to increase resettlement from the Western Hemisphere, while reiterating that this should not come at the expense of other populations. To those ends, we call on Congress to continue its unbroken history of bipartisan support for USRAP, namely through resources for processing and domestic integration efforts.

“Finally, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world, especially those in the Middle East and Asia, who face increased barriers to accessing permanent protection. We implore the Administration to provide equitable access to refugee resettlement for these populations and to engage with host countries to promote their humane treatment.”

Through its Department of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS), the USCCB is one of ten national resettlement agencies partnering with the federal government on USRAP. This is one of the ways in which the Catholic Church in the United States answers Christ’s call to welcome the stranger and carries out the Church’s commitment to protecting the life and upholding the dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception to natural death.

Earlier this year, William Canny, executive director of MRS, testified during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and Border Safety, entitled “Living Up to America’s Promise: The Need to Bolster the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”

 

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