Today, more than 70 million people around the world are displaced, including more than 25 million refugees–the highest number in recorded history. Estimates indicate that a person is displaced every 20 minutes. However, when global need is at its highest, our nation’s long history as a world leader in refugee protection and resettlement could be eliminated. The administration set an all-time low refugee admissions goal for fiscal year 2019 at 30,000, and is now considering zeroing out the program altogether – turning our backs on the values of compassion and welcome we have owned as a nation since the beginning.
Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio has resettled over 12,000 refugees into the Cincinnati region since the Vietnam War. These new immigrants have contributed to our region’s growth and innovation. Many studies indicate a positive value to regions with growth from immigrants who start businesses and improve the economy. In 2016 Catholic Charities resettled 330 refugees locally. This number is projected for 100 in 2019. If the current proposal to change the President’s determination of refugees resettle to zero occurs then our future as a resettlement agency may end.
This is unfortunate since it puts the lives of the most vulnerable at risk. We are called to protect the vulnerable a welcome the stranger, not to turn our backs on them. There is no real security risk since refugees are the most vetted group of immigrants who face more security screening than any other group of immigrants.
Please be aware that there is no financial incentive for Catholic Charities to resettle refugees. There is not nearly enough government funding to pay for the requirements to secure a safe living space, medical screenings, immigration documents filings and language/job readiness skills. It is accomplished through generous donors and volunteers who know the value of continuing to protect vulnerable people and welcome into our community, people who are facing difficult times.