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The Importance of Refugee Admissions in the U.S. — What is Going On and How You Can Help

Try to picture the freedom and emancipation felt by a person having escaped war and persecution. Try to picture coming to a brand new country where you don’t need to live in constant fear for your life, not knowing which day may be your last.

My own parents, aunt, and uncle escaped from the war in Kosovo in 1999 and were able to come to the United States as Albanian refugees from Kosovo through the International Organization for Migration. They made it through constant bombings, shootings, and constantly needing to move from one place to another in fear that Serbian soldiers would come and kill them. Coming to the United States through a refugee program not only saved them, but also opened new doors and new opportunities they would have never been able to have in war-torn Kosovo. 

The United States is known as “the land of the free.” It is a diverse country, consisting of people from all over the world, that “has been a global leader in the resettlement of refugees” (American Immigration Council). That is what the U.S. is all about: people coming from different countries in need of safety, hopes of a better life, and hopes of achieving and living the “American Dream.” It is fundamental that we do not forget that. It is fundamental that we recognize that people always have, and to this day are, still facing war and persecution and need a place to be able to escape to. They need a place to start over and have a chance at a new life where they feel safe. They need people to care about them enough to help them.


\"Immigrants make America great\" sign
Photo by Nitish Meena from Unsplash

Until Trump became president, the U.S. was the country that offered refuge to more people than all other nations combined. Now, the U.S. offers refuge to less people than the rest of the world. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. allowed 110,000 refugee admissions. With Trump, that number was lowered to 50,000 for Fiscal year 2017. Then 45,000 in 2018. Then 30,000 in 2019 (American Immigration Council). Ultimately, Trump ended up lowering that number to 15,000, and it has stayed that way to this day. Imagine what a drastic change going from 110,000 refugee admissions to 15,000 is. President Biden has decided to maintain the Trump administration’s 15,000 refugee admissions for Fiscal year 2021 (International Rescue Committee). 95,000 more people could be saved and helped each year, yet they are not being allowed into this country.

President Biden once promised to drastically increase the number of refugee admissions. Currently, there has not been any change, though. Different organizations all around the U.S. have been increasing the pressure on Biden to keep his promise and put his words into action. On May 15, the Biden administration will reassess the refugee cap. “With more than 30,000 refugees who have conditional approval from the U.S. Government and over 100,000 waiting in the pipeline for years to be reunited, a refugee admissions goal of 15,000 leaves thousands of people in limbo and in need of safety” (International Rescue Committee). People need to be allowed to come to the United States, not only to seek safety and asylum, but also to be reunited with their loved ones. So many families are separated and unable to see each other because of this low admissions rate. Although this is very tragic and devastating, there is still hope for the future and we can only hope that the Biden administration will see the urgency of this issue and do something about it… but we can also sign petitions to push for this change. Below, you can find a list of petitions that you can sign to urge President Biden to keep his promise:

https://worldrelief.org/petition/

https://action.unrefugees.org/resettlement-petition-2021/

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/add-your-name-urge-congressional-republicans-to-push-for-refugee-resettlement-increases?source=direct_link&referrer=group-national-network-for-immigrant-and-refugee-rights

 

Alba is an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Communication and minoring in Professional Writing. Her passions include writing, event planning, and PR. When she isn't writing or planning and hosting events, she loves spending her free time in nature, trying out new restaurants, and making memories with her family and friends.
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