The GRACE Act Ensures America’s Commitment to Refugee Resettlement
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged members of Congress to support the GRACE Act—the Guaranteed Refugee Admissions Ceiling Enhancement Act—which will set an annual refugee admissions floor of 95,000, a crucial step towards preserving the state of the refugee resettlement program. In response, Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley issued the following statement:
The GRACE Act celebrates our shared American values; it honors our nation’s strength and diversity, and it reflects the consensus from the overwhelming majority of Americans who support robust refugee admissions. Setting the annual refugee admissions floor at 95,000 will reset our historical commitment to refugee admissions and will provide a critical lifeline for those waiting for a chance at freedom in the United States. The refugee resettlement program saves lives.
In supporting the GRACE Act, members of Congress send a message to the world that America will not forgo its humanitarian commitment during the largest global refugee crisis since WWII. At a moment when the Trump Administration has fallen victim to its basest impulses, this bill provides a rare glimmer of hope for our nation’s legacy as a haven for the persecuted.
An increased refugee admissions ceiling would help support developing, front-line countries and advance U.S. national security interests. Former CIA directors, national security advisers, and secretaries of defense, state, and homeland security have explained that resettling refugees advances U.S. national security interests.
Refugee arrivals have plummeted by almost 75 percent during the Trump Administration. More than halfway into the fiscal year, the administration is not even close to welcoming half of the 30,000 refugees it set as a goal for Fiscal Year 2019. Meanwhile, thousands of refugees—more than half of whom are children—are waiting in an ever-increasing backlog of cases. This includes Iraqi refugees, many who are at risk due to their work with the U.S. military.
For decades, the U.S. refugee resettlement program was championed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike. But for the first time in more than three decades, the United States is no longer the world leader in resettling refugees, a title that now belongs to Canada. And when you look at the United States’ resettlement per capita, the comparison is even more stark. The United States has only three refugees for every one thousand citizens, one of the lowest in the developed world. For comparison, Sweden—a country roughly the size of the state of California with 27 million less citizens—hosts 30 refugees for every one thousand citizens.