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Coronavirus Crisis: Refugee Agencies Lobby for Mass Immigration to U.S.

Refugee contractors, partially funded by American taxpayers, have lobbied for mass immigration to the United States during the Chinese coronavirus crisis.

President Trump’s administration has implemented travel bans on China, Iran, and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. The nation’s leading health experts have said the travel bans are vital to slow the spread, and 95 percent of Americans support the travel bans.

Refugee contractors, like the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), have issued statements supporting House Democrats’ “No Ban Act” to end presidential-issued travel bans and continued refugee resettlement into the U.S.

“While we understand the challenges of responding to a global pandemic, we are deeply saddened that on the very day we mark the 40th anniversary of the landmark Refugee Act of 1980, the United Nations has suspended refugee flight departures,” LIRS President Krish O’Mara Vignarajah said in a statement after the United Nations announced they would suspend facilitating refugee resettlement.

“We pray that this action does not keep refugee children and families in harm’s way at this difficult time,” Vignarajah said.

Likewise, in early February, HIAS officials issued a statement in support of the No Ban Act which would have prevented Trump from immediately issuing travel bans on China, Iran, and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

HIAS officials said:


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While we started helping Jewish refugees fleeing religious persecution, we recognize that the right to refuge is a universal human right, and HIAS is now dedicated to providing welcome, safety, and freedom to refugees of all faiths from around the world. We therefore urge committee members to pass … the [No Ban Act,].

HIAS officials also thanked House and Senate lawmakers for providing about $350 million for refugees abroad in their first coronavirus relief package and asked that refugees be eligible for federal financial assistance:

HIAS applauds Congress for including $350 million in funding to support the Migration and Refugee Account under the Department of State. These funds will assist the United States in better responding to the protection needs of refugee populations during this crisis. We hope in future legislative packages that Congress will address other pressing issues, including ensuring that refugees and Special Immigrant Visa holders whose travel to the U.S. has been delayed due to COVID-19 will be allowed to travel immediately, once restrictions are lifted. [Emphasis added]

We also urge Congress to extend unemployment protections to make certain that newly arrived refugees and immigrants – many of whom work in hard-hit industries like hospitality and service – will have access to important financial safety nets. HIAS urges Congress to consider all workers and families in future efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. [Emphasis added]

The State Department has halted refugee resettlement in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, though a handful of “emergency” refugees have been resettled over the last week.


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Refugee contractors have a vested interest in making sure as many refugees are resettled across the U.S. as possible because their annual federally-funded budgets are contingent on the number of refugees they resettle.

Since 2005, nearly 860,000 refugees have been resettled across the U.S. — a population that is more than 80 times the size of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Effectively, for the last 15 years, nearly 60,000 refugees have been resettled in the country, equivalent to adding the population of Pensacola, Florida, to the U.S. every year.

Refugee resettlement costs American taxpayers nearly $9 billion every five years, according to the latest research. Over the course of five years, an estimated 16 percent of all refugees admitted will need housing assistance paid for by taxpayers.

Story cited here.

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