The International Institute of St. Louis is calling for St. Louisans to “raise their voices for the voiceless” and join the organization in opposing the Trump administration's proposal to virtually shut down refugee resettlement in the U.S., by setting a limit of zero refugees for 2020.
Although no action has been taken, the administration reduced the annual resettlement cap from 95,000 in 2017 to 45,000 in 2018 and then to 30,000 in 2019.
“White House officials are attempting to justify this unprecedented change by suggesting that current refugee resettlement resources be allocated to the Department of Homeland Security to process asylum seekers at the southern U.S. border,” the International Institute noted in a statement. “However, the administration's moves to bar asylum-seeker access clearly invalidates this argument.”
The International Institute cited both humanitarian and economic reasons for its opposition.
“This cut in resettlement numbers puts the lives of thousands of vulnerable people around the world at risk, including religious and ethnic minorities, Afghan and Iraqi allies, and victims of torture and gender-based violence,” the International Institute stated. “If the administration moves forward with these plans, thousands of vetted refugees, many of whom have been waiting for more than 17 years in refugee camps and are ready to begin their new lives in the U.S., will be effectively abandoned.”
The International Institute also claimed that refugees “make an enormous net contribution to the U.S. economy with a fiscal impact over a 10-year period of $63 billion.” In Missouri alone, it said, 14,101 immigrants are self-employed, 58,916 Missourians are employed at immigrant-owned firms, and immigrants contribute $518 million in state and local taxes.
The International Institute has provided resettlement and integration services for nearly every new immigrant population in the St. Louis region since 1919. Annually, more than 6,000 immigrants and refugees learn English, find jobs, become resettled and start businesses with its help.
"We hope that St. Louisans will raise their voices for the voiceless and advocate for the preservation of the U.S.'s time-tested humanitarian refugee resettlement program,” International Institute of St. Louis Vice President of Programs Blake Hamilton said in the statement.
The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants joined the International Institute in urging St. Louis-area residents to write a letter, email or call the White House and their U.S. senators and representatives urging continued support for refugee resettlement.