Reps. Lofgren, Neguse & Sen. Markey Reintroduce Legislation to Reestablish the United States’ Commitment to Welcoming Refugees
WASHINGTON, DC – As the world faces the highest levels of displacement on record, U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Joe Neguse (CO-02) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) are reintroducing the bicameral Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act. This legislation would strengthen the Refugee Act of 1980 by preventing the President from setting a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions at a level below 125,000. According to the UN Refugee Agency, 79.5 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them, nearly 26 million are refugees, and more than half are under the age of 18.
“Leaders on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that a robust refugee program advances our national security interests and is morally just,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. “Sadly, the Trump Administration gutted America’s lifesaving program and betrayed our country’s commitment to protect people fleeing persecution, including those who served alongside our troops. The GRACE Act strengthens existing U.S. law and reaffirms our country’s longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees for years to come.”
“We are in the midst of a historic refugee crisis – we cannot close our borders, our shores, or our hearts to those seeking safety and a better life,” said Senator Markey. “The Trump administration’s decision to slash refugee admissions was a drastic departure from our longstanding commitment to vulnerable people around the world, and now under President Biden, we have the opportunity to recommit the United States as a beacon of hope to those fleeing violence and persecution. The GRACE Act will safeguard our refugee resettlement program while meeting the demands of the global refugee crisis.”
In addition to preventing a President from setting annual refugee admissions below 125,000, the GRACE Act also strengthens the refugee program by:
- Automatically setting the annual level of refugee admissions at 125,000 if the president fails to issue a determination by the statutory deadline of October 1;
- Ensuring that each officer responsible for refugee admissions or resettlement treats the Presidential Determination as a goal;
- Encouraging the President to consider the report of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on global resettlement needs when setting the Presidential Determination and determining regional allocations; and
- Mandating quarterly reports to Congress with specific oversight requirements.
A copy of the GRACE Act be found HERE.
Original co-sponsors of this legislation in the Senate include Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
“The GRACE Act not only represents the needs of the resettlement program, but the hopes of our nation when it comes to welcoming the stranger. At no other time has our moral responsibility to uphold these principles been greater. During the last administration, we saw the consequences of allowing immoral political pandering to guide harmful anti-refugee policies. The GRACE Act is an important step forward in preventing future administrations from blatantly disregarding our moral and legal obligations,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Church World Service. “For decades this public-private program has maintained bipartisan support, with the belief in our moral obligation to the vulnerable and the hard-evidence of how refugees benefit our communities. When that program was undermined and dismantled, families that looked to us with hope were left in harm’s way. It’s time for Congress to ensure that never happens again.”
The GRACE Act is endorsed by America's Voice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Aspire For Humanity Initiatives, Azerbaijan Society Of Maine, Cambodian Community Association of Maine, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Security, Race and Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Central American Resource Center of Northern CA - CARECEN SF, Church World Service, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles - Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc., HIAS, Hispanic Federation, Human Rights First, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, International Refugee Assistance Project, International Rescue Committee, Law Office of Sonia Parras PLLC, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lights for Liberty, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Maine Business Immigration Coalition, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, National Council of Jewish Women, National Immigration Law Center, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, National Partnership for New Americans, New York Immigration Coalition, Oxfam America, Refugee Congress, Refugees International, RefugePoint, Revolutionary Love Project, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Society of the Sacred Heart United States Canada Province, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Advocates for Human Rights, The Revolutionary Love Project, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Union for Reform Judaism, United Stateless, Veterans for American Ideals, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors-Bangor, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Women for Afghan Women, and Yemeni American Merchants Association.