The Honorable Senator Tim Scott
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
August 1, 2019
Dear Senator Scott,
As your constituent, I urge you to protect and rebuild the refugee admissions program. It is critical that Congress holds the Administration accountable to meeting this year’s refugee admissions goal of 30,000 - already a historic low - and to setting a goal of at least 95,000 refugees in FY 2020. I also call on you to do everything in your power to protect asylum seekers and prevent the Administration from returning people seeking protection back into harm’s way.
Over 68 million people are displaced globally, including over 25 million refugees - the largest number in recorded history. Congress must provide oversight to ensure that the Administration operates the refugee admissions program in good faith. By definition, refugees are people who have fled their country with a well-founded fear of persecution because of their ethnicity, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Resettlement is the last option for safety for refugees who cannot return home and cannot rebuild their lives in the country where they first fled.
The US Refugee Admissions Program is a private/public partnership that was started by congregations and communities across the United States and is integral to US foreign policy objectives. Resettlement to the United States is available only for those who demonstrate the greatest and most immediate need for protection and takes place after eligible refugees undergo rigorous selection, security vetting, and medical screening processes.
Lutheran Services Carolinas helps refugees who have been resettled in South Carolina by providing them with the tools of self-reliance: housing, job placement and employment skills, English-language classes, and community orientation. Refugees are resilient, hard workers whose innovative skills have contributed greatly to our state. Refugees have opened businesses, revitalized towns, and are productive members of the communities that welcomed them.
Finally, we have received word that the Administration is considering admitting zero refugees in fiscal year 2020. This concept is cruel, dangerous, and unnecessary, and I ask that you fight hard in opposition of the proposal. The United States has the capacity and resources to support robust resettlement and asylum protections and completely abandoning our commitment to refugees undermines regional security and US foreign policy interests. Furthermore, Nearly 40,000 refugees are already approved and at various stages in the resettlement process. To reject them, after they have already waited for years to be resettled, would be a betrayal in violation of our values and humanitarian obligations. In particular, it would abandon our commitment to US-affiliated Iraqis who put their lives on the line assisting our military, as well as religious minorities and other refugees with no other option for safety.
My community welcomes refugees and immigrants, and I invite you to meet with refugees next time you are in your home office. Thank you for your public service. Please contact me if you have any questions.