More than 200 state and local officials from 40 U.S. states and one territory have signed a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to meet his goals for resettling international refugees in the United States.
The letter was drafted by the Refugee Advocacy Lab, a nonprofit humanitarian group, working in conjunction with the global group Refugees International. The group, in its letter, notes crises in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other nations have driven a global migration crisis "of historic proportions" that requires bold leadership and innovative solutions.
The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates a record-breaking 100 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced; 27.1 million of them are registered as refugees. More than half of those refugees are children.
The letter applauds the commitment made by President Biden and his administration for setting a goal to increase U.S. refugee admissions to 125,000 for the fiscal year 2022. They note in 2021- 11,411 refugees resettled in the nation - the lowest in any year on record.
But the letter and its signatories point out more than halfway through 2022, the U.S. is on pace to resettle less than 20 percent of the Biden administration's goal.
They are critical of a recent U.S. pivot toward offering "temporary pathways" over resettlement, as was observed in the U.S. evacuation of Afghans. The letter maintains resettlement "offers refugees an important permanent pathway to safety."
Since establishing the U.S. refugee program in 1980, the letter notes, the United States each year historically resettled the world's largest number of refugees annually, until recent years. They say, "Now more than ever, we need to renew and rebuild this commitment in the face of unprecedented circumstances."