Jewish Organizations Urge U.S. Government to Meet Refugee Resettlement Goals

Gov't risks abdicating 'American promise of freedom and opportunity,' organizations argue, with Trump administration setting admissions target at a third of what it was for the past 40 years

Members of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, whose slogan is 'Welcome the stranger. Protect the refugee,' protest in Washington, D.C.,  September 14, 2017

Some 167 national, state and local Jewish organizations have called on the U.S. government to meet the refugee resettlement admissions goal for this year.

The goal for the fiscal year 2019 is 30,000, a historically low figure.

A letter signed by the organizations was delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday. The authors cross the religious and political spectrum.

“The United States has historically distinguished itself as a beacon of hope and as a safe haven for those who most need it,” the letter says, noting that the global refugee population reached a record 25.9 million in 2018.

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A demonstrator holds up a sign during a rally held by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to mark a National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees, New York, February 12, 2017.
Julie Jacobson/AP

It points out that for nearly 40 years, the refugee admissions target averaged 95,000 per year, with actual admissions averaging about 80,000.  The Trump administration set the 30,000 ceiling for 2019.

“Resettling zero refugees in the U.S. in FY2020 would effectively gut the refugee resettlement program, violate our values as Jews and Americans, and abdicate the American promise of freedom and opportunity,” the letter also says, calling for the previous refugee target of 95,000 to be restored.

“As Jews, we know all too well what happens when people fleeing for their lives have nowhere to turn. Our parents or grandparents, neighbors or community members once faced a similarly callous and unwelcoming world, with fatal consequences.”