The President’s budget for next year is out, but I have to be completely honest with you, going through these numbers is not my thing!
And, consider that it is Congress that will in reality set the agenda and budget for refugee admissions by how much money they are sending to the program and ultimately out to the federal resettlement contractors.
In searching around this morning, I’ve found several indicators of what Trump might do, what he has done, what the budget might dictate, and how the contractors are reacting, and I will leave it to you (who have more patience to wade through numbers than I) to analyze the numbers.
Just so you know, as of today (5/24/2017), note (from Wrapsnet) that Trump is now at 45,172 admitted refugees for this fiscal year (FY2017 ends on September 30th). (Average refugee admissions for the last ten years is around in the low 60,000s.)
Resettlement contractors happy with FY17 budget!
I missed this: The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society was very happy with the Continuing Budget for the present fiscal year. See here earlier this month:
Today (May 5) President Trump signed into law a $1.1 trillion government spending bill to keep the government running through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
Within that massive bill are a few items of particular importance for refugees who, after fleeing war and persecution, have either found safety abroad or are beginning new lives in the United States.
The spending bill funds the Office of Refugee Resettlement at a level equal to last fiscal year. ORR oversees the domestic side of U.S. resettlement and facilitates refugees’ integration and economic success in this country. This funding will allow ORR and its partner agencies (including HIAS) to continue providing services for refugees, asylees, unaccompanied refugee and asylum seeker children, Cuban and Haitian entrants, and Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa recipients.
Also included is $3.06 billion for Migration Refugee Assistance, which is $99 million more than the Trump administration requested.
This funding will enable the U.S. State Department to provide humanitarian aid to refugees overseas as well as resettle refugees in the United States.
The bill also extends the Lautenberg Amendment, which ensures a safe means of exit for religious minorities from Iran and the former Soviet Union who are approved to come to the United States. [Bunch of hypocrites! They say Trump can’t legally select Christians over Muslims, but they have supported choosing Jews as a priority from Iran and Russia for decades!—ed]
This funding agreement, which originated in the House of Representatives and passed both chambers of Congress before it reached the President’s desk for signature, ensures that the U.S. refugee resettlement program will be sufficiently funded for the remainder of this fiscal year.
This means that communities in states across the country will be able to continue doing what they already do so well every day: welcoming newly arrived refugee families and helping them to integrate by providing a strong start in their new home.
Today marks a victory for our partners in Washington and around the country, who have been advocating for continued U.S. support for welcoming and protecting refugees. But there is still so much more we can and should be doing.
We continue to urge the Trump Administration to resettle at least 75,000 refugees this fiscal year.
That was May 5th.
They have friends in the Republican Congress!
A couple of days ago (May 22nd), the President unveiled his FY18 budget and here at the Daily Caller we learn that it includes enough funding for 50,000 refugees for FY18 (begins September 30th, 2017), but just like the CR discussed above, Congress can, and likely will, add more money for MORE refugees!
Why would Republicans who control Congress want more refugees? That is easy: cheap immigrant labor for their big business donors and for the Chamber of Commerce!
The markers are being laid down!
Trump wants 50,000 and they want 75,000 for FY18!
Here is what the refugee industry is saying about this budget, from their lobbying arm in DC yesterday—the Refugee Council USA:
WASHINGTON, DC—Refugee Council USA (RCUSA), a coalition of 24 U.S.-based non-governmental organizations*** dedicated to refugee protection, urges Congress to fund refugee programs at levels that reflect the reality that the world is currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. The last thing that the United States should do during a time of historic refugee crises is to cut lifesaving refugee budget accounts.
“Now more than ever, we must allocate funding to programs that align with our American values of freedom, compassion and opportunity,” Hans van de Weerd, Chair of RCUSA, said. “The United States has historically been a global refugee protection leader, both through strong support for refugees overseas, as well as through funding a robust domestic refugee resettlement program. We can, and must, continue to do both. During this challenging and tumultuous time, we urge the Committees on Appropriations to demonstrate support for America’s leadership in the world and our longstanding tradition of welcome by robustly funding these important humanitarian accounts during the FY 2018 appropriations process.”
[You see, they know they can get to Congress even if Trump has slightly reduced the numbers—ed]
RCUSA is requesting that at least 75,000 refugees be resettled in FY18, and believes that the Administration’s budget proposal that would support the resettlement of 50,000 is inadequate and an abdication of U.S. leadership.
RCUSA is advocating for a continuance of FY17 funding levels, and therefore recommends funding of $1.688 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account. The REA account, which funds the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), is a crucial component of fostering refugee integration and self-sufficiency. In addition to providing services to resettled refugees, ORR is tasked with implementing social services for unaccompanied minors, asylees, Cuban and Haitian entrants, Special Immigrant Visa holders, victims of human trafficking, and survivors of torture. The President’s budget proposes a 31% cut to refugee services that help refugees achieve long-term integration and economic success and assist communities and local partners in welcoming new Americans. RCUSA also recommends $3.604 billion in funding for the Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account. The MRA account provides overseas assistance to displaced refugees, supports admissions to the U.S. of the most vulnerable refugees, and funds lifesaving services in humanitarian emergencies.
RCUSA also strongly opposes the president’s proposal to eliminate the Department of State’s Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account, which for example, in recent years has provided stabilizing assistance to countries of first asylum that have given safety to South Sudanese and Syrian refugees. RCUSA urges a continued funding level of $50 million for this account in FY 2018.
I’ve included that last paragraph above because this ERMA fund is nothing to fight about. It is no great shakes for Trump to have omitted funding for it. Yes, it saves US taxpayers some money, but readers in the past have confused it with money used to bring refugees to America. It is for assistance abroad and not for resettlement here, so don’t let Trump people tell you this is some sort of victory.
The battle lines are shaping up and it is pretty clear that the refugee industry is going to the Republican Congress to stop the President from reducing numbers to 50,000, a number that we think is outrageously high for a President who campaigned on stopping the program, at least temporarily, all together.
Sadly, instead of a fight about abolishing or reforming the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program (and getting the fraud out of it!) it sure looks likes it is going to be a fight simply over numbers—50,000, 75,000, or somewhere in between. At this stage it appears that the Trump Administration hasn’t any fight left for this issue.
***Go here to see all members of the Refugee Council USA. All nine federal resettlement contractors are a part of this lobbying office. I suppose one could look at this 75,000 demand as a comedown for them. In August of 2016 they urged Obama to set the ceiling at 200,000, see here. But, again, they are always pushing, pushing and pushing.
For new readers, the nine federal refugee contractors you pay to bring refugees to your towns and cities:
- Church World Service (CWS)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
- World Relief Corporation (WR)