Home Christian News After 4 Years of Historic Lows, Faith-Based Refugee Resettlement Groups Start Rebuilding

After 4 Years of Historic Lows, Faith-Based Refugee Resettlement Groups Start Rebuilding

The U.S. has a “moral” responsibility to settle more people than it has in the past few years at a time when an estimated 80 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes, and about 30 million are refugees, Yang said in a Q&A posted on World Relief’s website — a sentiment Biden echoed in his announcement Thursday.

AP News

“There’s no question we’ve completely abdicated our leadership in refugee resettlement,” Yang elaborated to RNS. “We have this historic low refugee ceiling, but it also has ripple effects where other countries around the world are now not accepting refugees either.”

Alvero, of Episcopal Migration Ministries, said Biden is sending the right signals.

“We’re back toward making this a humanitarian program, a lifesaving program, and the United States wants to be a leader once again in assisting refugees, both in overseas aid, as well as in resettlement,” he said.

But it will take time to rebuild.

Agency leaders pointed to the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly slowed the process for refugees seeking to come to the United States.

“The reality is that we’re still dealing with a pandemic, and that puts real, serious obstacles in the way,” Hetfield said.

The HIAS leader explained the pandemic has particularly impacted government officials who work on the front lines of the refugee vetting process abroad. A U.S. policy of holding in-person meetings with refugee applicants — a pre-pandemic practice HIAS has long argued should be phased out in favor of virtual meetings — has hamstrung the process at a time when meeting in person can be dangerous.

“The United States will order people deported based on video interviews,” he said before the text of the order was released. “If you can deport somebody based on a video, I think you should also be able to admit somebody that way, especially somebody whose life is in danger.”

The text of Biden’s executive order does include a section asking the Department of Homeland Security secretary to “consider” ways to “expand refugee vetting and adjudication capacity,” including “permitting the use of video and audio teleconferencing to conduct refugee interviews and establishing the necessary infrastructure to do so.”

Other advocates have raised the alarm that Trump administration policies have severely hobbled the refugee resettlement apparatus here in the U.S.