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Former Refugees Appeal to Biden to Lift Refugee Admissions Cap

For immediate release

April 6, 2021


WASHINGTON—More than 260 former refugee leaders today sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to make good on his commitment to lift the refugee admissions cap. President Biden campaigned on a pledge to restore the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program after the Trump administration gutted the program to historic lows and imposed discriminatory regional restrictions that have unfairly disqualified refugees in need from resettling to the United States. 


The letter from refugee leaders calls on President Biden to immediately issue an Emergency Fiscal Year 2021 Presidential Determination (PD) on Refugee Admissions of 62,500 through Executive Order. President Biden presented the plan to Congress two months ago. However, the EO remains on his desk unsigned without an explanation for the cause of the delay. 


“We write to you today not only as people who were once forced to flee our countries of origin but also as proud Americans,” the letter states. “Every day that passes without a revised Presidential Determination leaves hundreds of refugee families in limbo in refugee camps and many waiting to be reunited with their loved ones here in the U.S. waiting for us to uphold our promise to protect.”


The Biden administration’s failure to lift Trump-era cutbacks of the refugee resettlement program has left families separated and refugees stranded, with more than 700 flights to date canceled for families who have been fully vetted and approved to resettle here. 


As the letter states: “Aden, who spent 20 years in a refugee camp with his mother and siblings after losing their father and two siblings to militia groups, is a long-haul truck driver who worked through the Covid-19 pandemic. He was resettled to the U.S. in 2017 with a promise that his mother and siblings will immediately follow. Four years after they were approved for resettlement, they are still waiting.” 


“As a former refugee, who is Muslim and has benefited from the resettlement program, I ask president Biden to fulfill his promises to by signing the PD immediately and stop the suffering of the refugee communities,” said refugee leader Basma Alawee & Chair of the Opportunity for All Campaign.


“We hope that President Biden will listen to our voices,” said Nejra Sumic, one of the refugee organizers of the letter. “Urgently signing a new refugee admissions goal will save lives, unite families, and help integrate refugees who have been critical to revitalizing our economies and serving in frontline roles amid the pandemic.” 


Read the full letter and list of signatories here.


For more information or to arrange an interview with a refugee representative of the letter, please contact Basma Alawee at 786-961-2129.



About Opportunity for All

Opportunity for All is a vibrant national campaign designed to shift social, political and economic conditions so that immigrants & refugees can achieve their full potential. We likewise work to ensure America remains a nation of opportunity for those seeking freedom, safety and refuge in the United States.