US bishops welcome increased refugee admissions cap

shutterstock 1770193109 U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters/ Hiram Rios/Shutterstock

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Monday their positive reaction to the news that the refugee cap will increase to 125,000 for the coming fiscal year.

“The last few years have had a devastating impact on refugee resettlement, all while we witness the greatest forced migration crises in decades,” said an Oct. 11 statement from Bishop Mario Dorsonville, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s migration committee. 

“We commend the Administration for seeking to reassert American leadership in this area, and we look forward to continued action in support of this goal. We also urge Congress to provide the resources necessary to not only rebuild the Refugee Admissions Program but sustain it for the next four decades and beyond,” added Bishop Dorsonville. 

On Oct. 8, the Biden administration issued a Presidential Determination for Fiscal Year 2022, raising the refugee cap to 125,000. This figure is the highest level since 1993. Bishop Dorsonville had previously advocated for this figure. The new cap means that up to 125,000 refugees can be admitted to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, although that figure may not be met.

“Whether fleeing war, natural disaster, or persecution, the positive contributions of refugees to our society have been well documented,” said Bishop Dorsonville. “First and foremost, however, we recognize them as vulnerable members of the same human family to which we ourselves belong.”

The bishop stated that Catholics in particular are called in a “special way” to “this ministry of welcome and encounter, through which we express the fullness of the Church’s universality.”

“The bishops of the United States pledge our continued commitment to this work, and we praise the many Catholic organizations, communities, and persons dedicated to what Pope Francis has referred to as ‘a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity,’” he said. 

Previously, President Joe Biden had set the refugee cap at 62,500 for Fiscal Year 2021. In April of 2021, advocates for refugees complained that despite promises to increase the number of refugees, the process had been “effectively halted.” 

According to the International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit that assists refugees, only 2,050 refugees had been admitted to the United States by late April 2021. 

In February 2021, Biden pledged to raise the refugee cap to 62,500 - nearly four times the current cap of 15,000. He did not, however, make a Presidential Determination for this figure until early May, much to the frustration of resettlement organizations. A total of 11,411 refugees were admitted to the United States in FY2021.

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