President Trump’s most recent attempt to slash the number of refugees admitted into the country constitutes a full blown attack against some of the world’s neediest individuals. In 2020, the United States’ will admit only 18,000 refugees, the lowest since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. This is an 80% cut from the last year of the Obama administration, where the cap was set at 110,000. Of these 18,00 refugees, 4,000 will be Iraqis who aided the US military, 1,500 will be from Central America, 5,000 will be people persecuted for their religious beliefs, and 7,500 will be reunifying with their families. This leaves no room for those fleeing war or any unforeseen crises.
The Presidential Declaration will also allow states and municipalities to opt out of refugee resettlement for the first time in history. While this is incredibly troubling, it also provides activists with a unique opportunity to provoke change. By and large, local officials are far more receptive to their constituencies then national politicians. Even a small group of dedicated advocates can make a difference. Through phone calls, letters, emails, and meetings, each and every one of us has the ability to help bring refugees to our communities, ensuring that these people have a welcoming place to live. If your city or state is not ready to accept refugees and the innumerable benefits that they bring to a community, take action. Work with your friends and neighbors to put pressure on your local officials and change their minds. And, once the refugees arrive, help out. Volunteer or donate to local charities and nonprofits that help these newcomers have a smooth transition into American society. With your help, we can make certain that refugees can thrive and quickly become independent, indispensable members of our communities.
Unfortunately, while local advocacy can help the refugees that have been admitted to our country, it does little to increase the number of refugees allowed in. This number is set by the President, in consultation with Congress. If you are unsatisfied with the refugee cap make sure that your voice is heard and that you reach out to your representatives. Advocates should also put their energy into the 2020 election. They should knock on doors and make sure they, and everyone that they know, vote.