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STATEMENT: RANKING MEMBER CONYERS ON THE OVERSIGHT OF THE UNITED STATES REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAM

Oct 26, 2017
True to these values, past presidents — Republican and Democratic alike — have championed robust refugee resettlement.

Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (D-MI.) delivered the following remarks the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Oversight of the United States Refugee Admissions Program, before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security

WATCH HERE

 

Over the course of today’s hearing on the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, there are several factors I want our witnesses to consider.
To begin with, it is incontrovertible that the United States, since its founding, has been a Nation of immigrants.
In recognition of that fact and of the undeniable value that immigrants contribute to our collective well-being, it has provided safe harbor for the persecuted.
True to these values, past presidents — Republican and Democratic alike — have championed robust refugee resettlement.
For example, the annual refugee admissions ceiling has averaged 94,000 since the Refugee Act of 1980, making America the world’s resettlement leader.
And, just one year ago, the cap was increased to 110,000, in response to the global humanitarian crisis, fueled by wars and unstable political environments.
Unfortunately, the current Administration, in swift fashion, abandoned America’s bipartisan leadership in this arena.
Pursuant to executive orders, President Trump issued a series of refugee bans. He then set a Fiscal Year 2018 ceiling of 45,000 — the lowest in modern history. In terms of per capita refugee resettlement, that ranks the United States behind eight other nations.
Under any circumstances, these actions would fly in the face of our country’s values. But coming at a time when worldwide refugees levels have soared to the highest in history, this cap is simply unconscionable.
Worse yet, the Administration’s purported justifications for its actions are baseless. For instance, the Administration argues that the refugee program poses a security threat.
Needless to say, Democrats stand committed to rigorous refugee vetting. But, national security experts from both parties agree that it is the absence of robust resettlement that truly undermines Americans’ safety. By slashing refugee admissions, President Trump damages key alliances in the ongoing fight against terrorism and strengthens ISIS recruitment.
The Administration also claims that refugees fail to assimilate and that they drain public resources. Again, however, the facts are otherwise.
According to reports, an internal study by the Department of Health and Human Services suppressed by the Administration shows that refugees contributed a net-positive $63 billion to the United States over a 10-year period.
In other words, it is not refugees, but the President’s restriction of their admission, that saps the Nation’s coffers.
In sum, President Trump’s refugee policies don’t just leave tens of thousands of refugees in limbo and danger. They don’t just violate core American values. They weaken our national security, damage our economy, and undermine our Nation’s core values.
All of this begs the question of what really fuels such policies. Tragically, the answer to that question appears to be a combination of nativism, fake “facts”, and perhaps, even bigotry, drawing from arguments made by anti-immigrant organizations designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate groups” with documented links to white nationalists.
The Administration has even proposed a refugee “assimilation test,” which evokes such xenophobic measures as the eugenics movement-fueled 1924 Immigration Act, which restricted immigration from Southern Europe and banned it outright from Asia.
Like the 1924 Act, the present Administration’s refugee policies are equally inexcusable.
In closing, I urge our witnesses today to examine these policies unflinchingly and to assess just how gravely they endanger our values, our economy, and even our national security.
Watch the full hearing here.
115th Congress