Just to recap, Obama’s final ‘determination’ sent to Capitol Hill a week ago calls for a ceiling*** of 110,000 refugees from all over the world for Fiscal year 2017 which begins in 8 days. He did not indicate how many of those would be Syrians but recently we learned that 20,000-30,000 would likely be Syrian Muslims.
They want the 110,000 to be a floor and not a ceiling and they want 100,000 Syrian Muslims on top of 110,000 other refugees.
They also drop some astounding numbers about how many billions of dollars they want from the REPUBLICAN Congress.
Here is the story from earlier in the week:
After a slow start in fiscal year 2016—in which, by the end of May, the United States had only resettled one-quarter of its stated commitment of 10,000 Syrian refugees—the administration announced on August 29 that it had hit its target. According to the administration’s report to Congress laying out its 2017 resettlement goals—the “Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2017”—the administration now believes it will surpass its original goal, bringing in up to 13,000 Syrians by the end of September.
Most importantly, the report to Congress makes clear that the United States will surpass even the commitment made by Secretary of State John Kerry in September 2015 to bring in 100,000 refugees in FY 2017: It raises the target for resettlement in FY 2017 to 110,000 refugees.
Human Rights First, for example, has called for the administration to admit 100,000 Syrians next year in addition to 100,000 refugees from the rest of the world.
Whatever number of Syrians the administration ultimately decides to admit, it should view the commitment to resettling 110,000 total refugees in FY 2017 as a floor, rather than a ceiling, and should do everything in its power to increase the number of refugees admitted.
They know what we have been trying to say for weeks! Congress has the power to slow the invasion if they want to because the resettlement contractors have virtually no money of their own.
They need your money to change your towns!
Funding is critical, and the ball is in Congress’ court
While the Obama administration has stepped up to raise the numbers of refugees to be resettled, Congress has not, to date, provided a corresponding increase in the funds available to ensure that these individuals are able to resettle smoothly, find livelihoods, and become self-sufficient soon after arrival—a key goal of the U.S. refugee program.
The funding Congress appropriated for FY 2016 was based on an estimate of only 75,000 refugees being resettled. When the administration raised its target to 85,000 refugees, Congress did not increase the funding to match. This means that over the past year, the government has had to resettle more refugees with fewer funds. To make matters worse, Congress will most likely only fund the government for the remainder of the calendar year using a continuing resolution—a stopgap, short-term funding bill rather than a full-year appropriation—likely holding the amount of funding for resettlement to FY 2016 levels. This will become all the more difficult to sustain as the number of refugees admitted grows to 110,000.
Take the Office of Refugee Resettlement, or ORR, as an example. This agency helps integrate newly arrived refugees into American life and society, providing financial and medical assistance, social work and case management, and language and job training programs. It also has primary responsibility for the housing and care of unaccompanied children who arrive in the United States. In FY 2016, the ORR received a little less than $1.7 billion to accomplish these tasks. With an increase in the numbers of both refugees being resettled and unaccompanied children arriving, however, ORR’s budget is stretched thin.
The Refugee Council USA (mentioned below) is the lobbying arm of the resettlement industry in Washington.
The administration’s FY 2017 budget, based on the original goal of resettling 100,000 refugees, calls for the ORR to receive about $2.2 billion, while Refugee Council USA—the main umbrella group for organizations working to resettle and protect refugees—has called for the ORR to receive $2.95 billion. Either way, Congress must come together to provide more funding to the agency.
The Continuing Budget Resolution as it now stands has barely half that much and we are urging Congress to cut even more deeply.
Keep calling them and tell them that you know they, the Republican leadership, hold the cards—not Obama!
We have written a lot about the Refugee Council USA and also about the Center for American Progress, so please use our search function if you want to learn more.
***On this ‘ceiling’ issue: for all the time I have been writing this blog, the industry has been working to make sure the ceiling is met. But, it is only a ceiling. The President can, during the course of the year, go below the ceiling and in some earlier years a president has. So it strikes me that if Donald Trump is elected, he could very well just (at minimum) go way below the ‘ceiling’ (tell his Secretary of State to slow it down) after he is inaugurated without even initiating a battle (over Obama’s last determination) in the opening months of his administration.