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Press Release // Refugee Resettlement

U.S. Resettles Lowest Number of Refugees Ever in Fiscal Year 2021

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Global Refuge Staff

October 4, 2021

U.S. Resettles Lowest Number of Refugees Ever in Fiscal Year 2021

Contact: Timothy Young | timothy.young@globalrefuge.org | 443-257-6310

Washington D.C. – The U.S. resettled the lowest number of refugees since the creation of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) in 1980. For Fiscal Year 2021 which ended September 30, the U.S. admitted just 11,411 refugees, despite the Biden administration’s lifting of the annual refugee cap to 62,500 in May. The previous record-low admissions figures came in Fiscal Year 2020, during which the Trump administration resettled 11,814 refugees. The highest annual admissions on record came in FY 1980 under President Reagan, when the U.S. welcomed 207,116 refugees.

The admissions figures do not include Afghans evacuated during the U.S. withdrawal who have predominantly entered the country on a tenuous legal status known as “humanitarian parole.”

The following is a statement by Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of Global Refuge, the nation’s largest faith-based nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant communities:

We are saddened but unsurprised by the record-low admission figures for this fiscal year. It speaks to the lasting damage of the Trump administration’s four-year assault on the refugee program. Rebuilding the program from the rubble has further been complicated by the pandemic, which has largely prevented the federal government from processing a robust pipeline of refugee arrivals.

Despite the decimated infrastructure the Biden White House inherited, responsibility now sits with the new administration in terms of resettlement figures for this fiscal year. If we are to reach President Biden’s goal of welcoming 125,000 refugees, the administration must be aggressive and innovative in ramping up processing. That should include the implementation of additional personnel, remote interviews, a robust and thoughtful private sponsorship pilot, and other measures to streamline the application process.

It bears repeating that refugees make our nation stronger in revitalizing our economy, reinvigorating our workforce, and enriching our culture. Welcoming new Americans isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do. There is overwhelming support across the country and across the aisle for this lifesaving program – a four-decade expression of our highest ideals put into practice. We urge the Biden administration to do everything in its power to align refugee admissions with our core values as a welcoming nation.

About us:
Founded in 1939, Global Refuge is the largest faith-based national nonprofit dedicated exclusively to serving refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrant communities in the United States. Through nearly 80 years of service and advocacy, Global Refuge has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America, including 10,000 Afghan allies through the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.

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