On Saturday, February 19, the House of Representatives recommended massive cuts to various humanitarian assistance programs, including:
- 45% cut to Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA)
- 10.4% cut to the Office of Refugee Resettlement
- 67% cut to International Disaster Assistance (IDA)
This would greatly impact Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program which, in the last six months, has helped resettle 126 refugees who have been forced to leave their home country due to war and persecution.
The Senate will likely vote on its own FY2011 spending bill the first week of March.
What We Need to Do
: Please call your Senators and urge them to reverse these cuts, and to instead support funding these accounts at the same amounts as enacted last year (FY2010). Please call as soon as possible and no later than March 1st. The Senate will be in their home states this week until Feb. 25th
, so please also try to schedule a meeting or just drop in to talk with them and their staff about the need to stop these cuts and robustly fund the refugee program.
Go to www.senate.gov to find out who your Senators are, and call (202) 224-3121 to be connectedto the DC offices of your Senators.
If you call - What to say:
- Hello, my name is [name] and I’m calling from [town/city].
- I am calling to ask [Senator] to not cut, and to instead support strong funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Migration and Refugee Assistance, and International Disaster Assistance.
- I help resettle and provide services to refugees in Des Moines, Iowa. While I fully recognize the pressures to reduce spending, the United States has a responsibility to provide adequate services to those whom the U.S. government has committed to protect. When local agencies are adequately funded, services are available that help refugees integrate and become vibrant and productive members of our communities.
- As a constituent, I deeply care about the fate of refugees in the U.S. and abroad. Cutting these accounts will have a devastating impact on refugees and the communities hosting them. I urge you to stop these cuts, and instead fund these accounts as they were funded last year, in fiscal year 2010.
If you email - What to write:
As your constituent, I write to urge you to save the refugee resettlement program from drastic cuts, and to fund the Migration and Refugee Assistance Account (MRA); Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR); and International Disaster Assistance (IDA) accounts at their FY2010 enacted levels. Cuts to these accounts, which have been historically under-funded, will have a devastating affect on refugees, Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa recipients, victims of torture and trafficking, other vulnerable populations, as well as communities across the country that welcome these populations.
While I fully recognize the pressures to reduce spending, the United States has a responsibility to provide adequate services to those whom the U.S. government has committed to protect. Once refugees are resettled to the United States, too often there are insufficient resources available to help them find employment and integrate into their communities. If those services are available then refugees can integrate and become vibrant and productive members of our communities. Similarly, if the U.S. and other leading donors reduce their humanitarian commitments, many displaced persons will be left without basic care and protection, and that this will put increasing pressure on poor countries hosting refugees.
Life-saving programs funded by the Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) and International Disaster Assistance (IDA) are the last resort for those refugees who cannot stay in their country of first asylum and cannot return home, including Iraqi refugees who are targeted because of their work for the U.S. Government; Burmese fleeing a repressive regime; and, Darfuris driven out of their homes and surviving in harsh camp conditions. Similarly, resettlement in the U.S. is the only solution for many refugees living in limbo, and the services provided by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) are essential to refugees integrating and building new lives in the United States.
As your constituent, I strongly urge Congress to provide robust support in fiscal year 2011 for refugee assistance and resettlement. Without strong support the United States will experience significant challenges in resettling refugees in the coming years. Such a setback in the program would undermine the United States’ ability to meet its international humanitarian obligations to protect refugees worldwide.
Catholic Charities’ Social Justice Consortium promotes the social justice mission of the Catholic Church. Guided by Bishop Richard Pates, the group’s mission is to work toward a comprehensive and consistent ethic of life for the pursuit of the common good. Initiatives include Respect Life, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities’ USA Poverty Campaign, JustFaith ministries, Domestic Violence/Sexual Abuse Advocacy, Justice for Newcomers and Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Response.