Immigration

Houston Nonprofits Brace For Trump’s Historic Cuts To Refugee Resettlement

Under the new refugee cap, the U.S. will accept no more than 18,000 refugees in the 2020 fiscal year, down from the current historic low of 30,000.

Ali Al Sudani, senior vice president of programs and chief of staff at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, spoke at a news conference Tuesday, held by the Houston Refugee Consortium.

The Houston Refugee Consortium — a group of six local nonprofits — is speaking up against the Trump administration’s plan to drastically limit the number of refugees allowed in the country.

“We have to come together and remember that we’re looking at human lives, many of them children,” Natalie Wood, the senior vice president of programs for Catholic Charities, said at a news conference held by the consortium Tuesday. “And we have to do the right thing.”

Under the new refugee cap, the U.S. will accept no more than 18,000 refugees this fiscal year, down from the current historic low of 30,000.

Houston went from resettling nearly 3,000 refugees in 2016 to some 650 in the 2019 fiscal year. And now that the national cap is decreasing by 40%, numbers will likely dwindle even more.

Even with the lowered caps, the U.S. has been admitting far fewer refugees than the official limit. In 2018, for example, the cap was set at 45,000, but 22,500 refugees were admitted, according to the Pew Research Center.

“When they contract to admit these people, they are asking us to staff and fund at the level that they are bringing people in,” said Dan Stoecker, president of local refugee resettlement non-profit The Alliance. “When they only actually bring us about half of what they do, we lose money. It’s a way of undermining the refugee resettlement system that’s been in place in many communities throughout America.”

The increased uncertainty is taking its toll on refugee organizations. Nationwide, around 100 resettlement offices have shut down or stopped receiving refugees, including four in Texas, according to a report from the advocacy group Refugee Council USA.

The Houston Refugee Consortium is calling on Congress to raise the number of refugees in the country. A proposed House bill called the GRACE Act would raise the refugee cap to 95,000 people.

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