USCIRF Urges Administration to Increase Refugee Resettlement Ceiling

Sep 22, 2020

USCIRF Urges Administration to Increase Refugee Resettlement Ceiling

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today reiterated its recommendation that the U.S. government commit to resettling 95,000 vulnerable refugees in the United States in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, including survivors of religious persecution. 

For each new fiscal year, which starts on October 1, presidential administrations determine a numerical ceiling for refugees accepted from abroad through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). 

“Unprecedented numbers of individuals worldwide are forcibly displaced by conflict or persecution, including based on their religion or belief, yet the resettlement to the United States of religious minority and other refugees has declined sharply in recent years,” said USCIRF Chair Gayle Manchin“The United States must continue to offer safe haven to those targeted for their faith. A robust U.S. refugee resettlement program helps protect the most vulnerable victims of religious persecution. With FY 2021 fast approaching, it is imperative that religious persecution be considered in this determination, as required by the International Religious Freedom Act.

Since the USRAP began in 1980, the ceiling for refugees accepted into the United States has averaged 95,000 per year, except in the past few years. It was 45,000 for FY 2018; 30,000 for FY 2019; and 18,000 for FY 2020, the lowest in the program’s history.

"USCIRF commends the Trump administration for its strong commitment to international religious freedom and increasing U.S. aid to displaced religious minorities," said USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins. "Enabling refugees to safely and voluntarily return home should stay a top priority. However, resettlement to the United States through an appropriate process that ensures America's safety and security must continue to be available for those refugees who remain in life-threatening danger and unable to go back to their countries of origin, including religious minorities."

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. government return the annual ceiling for the USRAP to the previously-typical 95,000.

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at media@uscirf.gov or Danielle Ashbahian at dashbahian@uscirf.gov.