Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Letter to Pompeo Urging Trump Administration to Recommit to Refugee Admissions Program

October 23, 2018

Bipartisan Push Comes After Fiscal Year 2018 Admissions Hit the Lowest Amount in More than 40 Years

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to reconsider the historic low set level in refugee admissions for fiscal year (FY) 2019 and to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to a robust refugee admissions program. The Trump administration has set FY 2019 refugee admissions levels at just 30,000. 

The Senators wrote, “A Presidential Determination of just 30,000 refugee admissions for the current year represents the lowest number ever set in the nearly 40 years since the program began. This is at odds with your previous statement of support for the refugee program and your commitment to meaningfully consult with Congress regarding the Presidential Determination.”

The letter specifically cites an exchange Secretary Pompeo had with Senator Shaheen during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, in which he committed to working with Congress with respect to refugee admittance, stating, “America has an important role with respect to refugees…you have my full commitment that we’ll work on these issues together.” 

In their letter, the Senators also outlined the rigorous vetting process that refugees encounter before they’re admitted to the United States and underscored the critical role that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) plays in promoting stability around the globe. 

In closing, the Senators wrote, “The reductions in refugee admissions threaten the position of the United States as a world leader in humanitarian assistance and undercuts our global leadership. We have been the world’s leader in refugee resettlement and humanitarian aid; when we do not fulfill our commitments to the most vulnerable populations, we cede that role. We cannot ask our partners to accept more refugees when we are not doing so ourselves.” 

The Senators concluded with a call for the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to cap refugee admissions at 30,000 for FY 2019 and to reaffirm U.S. commitment to an inclusive admissions program. 

The letter was also signed by Senators Hatch (R-UT), Leahy (D-VT), Murkowski (R-AK), Hassan (D-NH), Carper (D-DE), Van Hollen (D-MD), Markey (D-MA), Murphy (D-CT), Harris (D-CA), Reed (D-RI), Warren (D-MA), Brown (D-OH), Booker (D-NJ), Coons (D-DE), Klobuchar (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Sanders (I-VT), Durbin (D-IL), Hirono (D-HI) and Wyden (D-OR). 

The letter can be read in full here.