260+ Refugees Leaders Send Powerful Appeal to Biden to Lift Refugee Admissions Cap

April 5, 2021

President Joseph R. Biden

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear President Biden,

As former refugees, we sincerely appreciate the commitment you have expressed to restore our country’s system of refugee resettlement and its proud tradition of welcoming and protecting those fleeing war, violence, and persecution. The United States Refugee Resettlement Program has been a lifeline to us and to the many other refugees who now call America home.

Today we are writing to urge you to immediately issue an Emergency Fiscal Year 2021 Presidential Determination (PD) on Refugee Admissions of 62,500 through Executive Order, a promise made two months ago. Over 700 scheduled flights have now been cancelled, and this continues to have a devastating impact on people in dire need of humanitarian protection. It also furthers the damage to the infrastructure for resettlement, keeps families and communities separated, and serves to extend the previous administration’s anti-refugee policies.

The United States is a generous country with a noble history of resettling refugees. We have been personal beneficiaries of this generosity and give back daily to the country that welcomed us. We write to you today not only as people who were once forced to flee our countries of origin, but also as proud Americans. Former refugees are this nation’s business owners, workers, faith leaders, teachers, elected officials, and valued members of our local communities. We have also been frontline workers during COVID-19, with 176,000 of us work in the healthcare field and 175,000 working as part of the food supply chain.

The U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program has resettled more than three million refugees since 1975 who have successfully integrated into our nation’s fabric and contribute significantly to local communities and to the economy. Like many, 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 year after they were approved for resettlement, they are still waiting.

Despite the success and historic bipartisan support of the resettlement program, the past four years of anti-refugee policy have had a devastating impact on the program. Record-low refugee arrivals this year have prolonged family separation, and we are deeply concerned about the harmful impact that the delay in your Executive Order will have on American communities and families. 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. At a time of record displacement with more than 26 million refugees worldwide, our commitment to refugee resettlement must increase, not decrease.

We encourage you to continue to uphold the values inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty and return refugee resettlement to its honored place in our nation’s history. We urge you to show your leadership by signing a newly revised FY21 refugee admission goal of 62,500. Thank you for listening to our voices.

Sincerely,

Alabama

Steve Habiyambere, former refugee (Burundi)

Miguel Carpizo Ituarte, social worker

 

Arizona

Alenga Alokola, youth case manager, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Aubrey Held, case manager

Diana  Carrillo, youth case manager (Mexico)

Hasan Alshuwaili, student, former refugee (Iraq) 

Jesus Valladolid, senior youth case manager (Mexico)

Mucyo Gadi, caregiver, former refugee (Rwanda)

Muktar Sheikh, nonprofit director, former refugee (Somalia) 

Nejra Sumic, national field manager, former refugee (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 

Rogelio Ramirez, social worker

Safaa Alsharbati, operations manager, former refugee (Iraq)

Sara Haghighi, educator, former refugee (Iran)

Thomas Flynn, case manager

 

California

Amir Razi, analyst, former refugee (Iran) 

April Moo, youth program coordinator 

Carmen Kcomt, lawyer, former refugee (Peru)

Haneen Alobaidi, former refugee (Iraq)

Maritza Agundez, attorney (Mexico)

Nova Vartanian, information technology specialist, former refugee (Iraq)

Pedram Panahi, self-employed contractor, former refugee (Iran)

Rayan Kaskos, early employment supervisor

Ruaa Abdulahad, architectural designer, former refugee (Iraq)

Saadia Hamdard, childcare provider and pharmacy technician, former refugee (Afghanistan)

Sharon Park, nonprofit professional

Shayan Zadeh, salesperson, former refugee

Sherveen Riazati, post doctoral researcher, former refugee (Iran)

Shifa Mohammad Faizal, case worker, former refugee

Sylvia Ortiz, Department of Justice representative

 

Colorado

Joseph Buzoya, food program worker, former refugee (Burundi)

Julius Lewis, security service employee, former refugee (Burundi) 

Nathalie Lungele, airport worker, former refugee (Congo)

Nermina Mujkanovic, federal government employee, former refugee (Bosnia)

Nga Vương-Sandoval, Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee (Vietnam)

 

Connecticut

Jane Kinity, nonprofit director, former refugee (Kenya)

 

Delaware

Lourena Gboeah, workforce development specialist, former refugee (Liberia)

 

Florida

Ali Aljubouri, teacher, former refugee (Iraq)

Ayda Alamir, restaurant owner, former refugee (Syria) 

Basma Alawee, Florida state organizer, former refugee (Iraq) 

Sadik Bertin, nonprofit professional, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Fatima Naqashi, child care provider, former refugee 

Leen Allami, former refugee (Iraq) 

Lina Dahi, self-employed, former refugee (Syria)

Naz Hussein, student, former refugee (Iraq)

Rubanguka Baguma, nonprofit professional, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

 

Georgia

Abdul Qawee Tararki, former refugee (Afghanistan) 

Aimee Zangandou, refugee resettlement program director

Anastassia Hardy, nonprofit worker

Jennifer Garcia, case manager

Kimberlie Marsh, refugee resettlement worker

Leonie Umwariwera, superstore order filler

Mediatrice Bukuru, food industry worker, former refugee (Burundi)

Nancy Friedman Gaddy, nonprofit fundraiser

Shambhavi Khanna, refugee resettlement worker (India)

Victoria Irambona, registered nurse, former refugee (Burundi) 

 

Hawaii

Valdir Solera Junior, concierge (Brazil)

 

Idaho

Bahati Christina, tunnel worker, former refugee (Burundi)

Kasombwa Emmanuel, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Niyonkuru Emmanuel, sanitation worker, former refugee (Burundi)

 

Illinois

Dancile Nimbona, packaging worker, former refugee (Burundi) 

Suzanne Akhras, nonprofit CEO, former refugee (Syria)

 

Indiana

Ally Ntumba, case manager, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

 

Iowa

Sengiyumva Lameck, former refugee 

 

Kansas

Gedeon Jino, employment specialist, former refugee

 

Kentucky

Aline Nirere, customer returns worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Andre Kadende, meat industry worker, former refugee (Burundi)

Daphrose Nyiramucyo, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Daphrose Niyukuri, former refugee (Burundi)

Denise Uwamahoro, former refugee (Rwanda) 

Emmanuel Niyomwungeri, associate for online retailer, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Esperance Ntahizaniye, former refugee (Burundi)

Evelyne Nyenyeri, warehouse worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Hai Lat, community organization employee, former refugee (Burma)

Kayitesi Uwimana, caregiver, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Marie Solange Mujawimana, caregiver, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Rahab Mukakigeri, former refugee, (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Salvatory Hakizimana, former refugee (Burundi)

 

Louisiana

Dauda Sesay, process technician, former refugee (Sierra Leone)

 

Maryland

Bilal Askaryar, community organizer, former refugee (Afghanistan)

Dagemawit Kebede, communications and advocacy professional, former refugee (Ethiopia)

Lola Funmilayo, behavior therapist and faith leader

Teklit Michael, Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee (Eritrea)

 

Massachusetts

Ibrahim Raphael, former refugee (Burundi)

 

Michigan

Abdoul Havugimana, business owner, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Alexiana Fry, adjunct professor

Azieb, project coordinator, former refugee (Ethiopia)

Bernard Rumenera, pastor, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Bimla Subba, baking company worker, former refugee (Bhutan)

Dilli Gautam, community leader, former refugee (Bhutan)

Edwin Hernandez, student, former refugee (El Salvador) 

Gershom Uredi, self employed, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Jihan Daman, trauma clinical social worker and founder of social services agency, former refugee (Iraq)

Joseph Muhindo, daycare provider, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Joshua Ngabo Innocent, refugee navigator, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Lauren Kanyere, early childhood education teacher , former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Rebecca Deng, author, former refugee (Sudan)

Rose Mayan, case manager and career coach, former refugee (South Sudan)

Salima Bamurange, community worker, former refugee (Rwanda) 

San Hpound, community worker, former refugee (Burma/Myanmar)

Shadia Mbabazi, community connector, former refugee (Rwanda)

Shukurani Nsengiyumva, family coach and social worker, former refugee (Rwanda)

Clementine Sikiri, former refugee (Rwanda) 

Susan Kragt, refugee and immigration services

Sylvia Nyamuhungu, refugee community organizer, former refugee (Kenya) 

 

Minnesota

Eh Ta Lar, youth worker, former refugee (Myanmar)

Martin John, former refugee 

May Paw Wah, former refugee (Myanmar)

Sha Htoo, former refugee (Myanmar)

 

Missouri

Julia Ostropolsky, social worker and Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee

 

Montana

Paul Mwingwa, teacher and Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

 

Nebraska

Abbas Aldoban, case worker, former refugee (Iraq)

Jean Claude Ashimwe, public school community liaison, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Omnia Eltayar, business owner (Egypt) 

 

New Hampshire

Suraj Budathoki, business owner, former refugee (Bhutan)

 

New Jersey

Itaji Wilondja, employment specialist, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Lubab Alquraishi, surgical pathologist assistant, former refugee (Iraq)

Murphy M. Gibson, community association president

 

New Mexico

Mohammed Alkwaz, community organization program coordinator

 

New York

Adnan Suvalic, nonprofit worker, former refugee (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Aye Wathy Myat, program assistant (Thailand)

Chantal  Mbitegereze, certified nursing assistant, former refugee (Burundi) 

Faisal Al Mutar, international development specialist

Lamin Tamang, public school support employee, former refugee (Bhutan)

Rutha Htoo, student (Myanmar)

 

North Carolina

Adam Sadda, undergraduate student, former refugee (Sudan)

Adamou Mohamed, community organizer, former asylee (Niger)

Anusia Uwineza, interpreter, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Berthe Mairounga, former refugee (Chad)

Birendra Chhetri, legal counsel, former refugee (Bhutan)

David Ssesanga, electrician, former refugee (Uganda)

Dev Bhandari, banker, former refugee (Bhutan) 

Dosse Amedin, community organizer, former refugee (Togo)

Felix Iyoko, community organization CEO 

Ghazwan Al Sakafi, hotel maintenance worker, former refugee (Iraq)

Hamid Bajien, former refugee (Sudan)

Leah Simon, nonprofit worker

Lydie Denebayew, former refugee (Central African Republic) 

Pili Esperance, former refugee

Raouf Baba, refugee health navigator, (Central African Republic)

Rebecca Schaeffer, legal services provider

Shamamba Jean Claude, wood company worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

 

North Dakota

Shyam K Rai, immigration specialist, former refugee (Bhutan) 

 

Ohio

Sulega Hussein, community leader, former refugee (Somalia)

Alphonsine Nabura, community navigator, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Aron Ndayishimye, package and receiving worker, former refugee (Uganda) 

Blaise Balazire, career consultant, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Cat Gossman, social worker

Claver Murekezi, social service worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Deborah Jane, chef and community leader, former refugee (Uganda)

Emmanuel Katabazi, carpenter, former refugee (Kenya)

Esperance Uzobaho, warehouse and home aid worker, former refugee (Burundi) 

Eugenie Krenga, former refugee, (Rwanda)

Eyerusalem Tesema, community worker, former refugee (Ethiopia) 

Frank Waswa, social worker, former refugee (Uganda)

Glory Brissett, community leader, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Guy Tshimanga, community mental health wellness navigator, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

Hakizza Justine, shipping and packaging worker, former refugee (Uganda) 

Hari Niroula, former refugee (Bhutan) 

Isra Kassim, care coordinator, former refugee (Somalia) 

Jacqueline Kifuko, refugee organizer, former refugee (Uganda)

Jamal Alabbood, electronic repair technician, former refugee (Iraq)

Jessica Elsayed, case worker

Jhuma Acharya, case manager, former refugee (Bhutan)

Marcus Gorman, logistics specialist

Mary Beha 

Michel Hakizimana, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Mohamed Ali, engineer, former refugee (Somalia)

Mulugeta Gebresilasie, employment counselor and faith leader, former refugee (Eritrea)

Rev. Dan Clark, faith leader

Roughiatou Ngaide, translator, former refugee (Mauritania)

Rukiya Warsame, former refugee (Somalia) 

Seleshi Asfaw, nonprofit sector employee

Tara Dahal, community leader, former refugee (Bhutan)

Tara Dhungana, social worker, former refugee (Bhutan) 

Theresa Gossman

Uma Acharya, program manager 

Yahya Khamis, community leader, former refugee (Sudan) 

 

Oregon

Cayle Tern, human services employee, former refugee (Laos)

Kayse Jama, Oregon state senator, former refugee (Somalia)

Manijeh Mehrnoosh, librarian and community leader (Iran)

Som Subedi, engagement integration of immigrants and refugees, Community Organizer and former refugee (Bhutan)

 

Pennsylvania

Daniel Gingrich, teacher

Emily Brown, case manager

Evangeline Long, resettlement supervisor

Haleigh Whitney, communications and volunteer engagement specialist

James Magot, community leader, former refugee (South Sudan)

Jeanne Martin-Sczechowicz, case manager

Judi Rhee Alloway, business owner (Korea)

Rwamucyo Karekezi, social service employee, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Khara Timsina, nonprofit manager, former refugee (Bhutan)

Matilda I. Sawie, public health coordinator and Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee (Liberia) 

Nitezimana Sezaria, former refugee (Burundi)

Said Ebad Hashemi, refugee advocate, former refugee (Afghanistan) 

Samantha Sweigert, school district employee

 

Rhode Island

Isabel Kayembe, community health worker and case manager, former refugee (Angola)

James Muyenga kaskile, therapeutic specialist, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo) 

 

South Dakota

Clara Hart, retired educator, former refugee (Mozambique)

Gervase Vangestine, food industry employee, former refugee (Burundi) 

Sinzinkayo Eli 

Sophia Hamenyimana, food industry employee, former refugee (Burundi) 

 

Tennessee

Alex Mutabazi, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Aye Myint, warehouse operations worker

Ayleen Torres, factory Worker

Basuze Madogo, social Worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Batohana Consansiyo, former refugee (Burundi)

Benjamin Ndayikengurukiye, assembly worker, former refugee (Burundi)

Egide Irambona, former refugee, (Burundi)

Elena Siwarat, student and faith leader, former refugee (Thailand) 

Emily Henein, waitress

Kayo Beshir, community organizer, former refugee (Ethiopia)

Mahad Farah, community outreach officer, former refugee (Somalia)

Mbitswenima Noel, pastor, former refugee (Burundi)

Nae Maung, student and part-time employee

Nagendra Basnet, former refugee (Nepal) 

Ndarurinze Prosper, food service worker, former refugee (Burundi) 

Niyizonkiza Vanisi, decon, former refugee (Burundi)

Zozan Noman, teacher, former refugee (Iraq)

 

Texas

Adaly Saldana, former refugee

Aisha Koroma, clinical director, mental health refugee services, former refugee (Sierra Leone) 

Ali Almosuli, maintenance technician, former refugee (Iraq)

Alphonsine Nyandwi, former refugee 

Dina Al Bayati, consultant, former refugee (Iraq)

Geeta Farahmand Rahimi, case manager, former refugee (Afghanistan)

Haider Al Abedi, engineer, former refugee (Iraq)

Khalil A. Arab, interpreter, former refugee (Afghanistan)

Marwa Al Ibrahim, refugee resettlement agency supervisor, former refugee (Iraq)

Omar Ibrahim, computer technician, former refugee (Iraq)

Sudip Adhikari, social worker and business owner, former refugee (Bhutan)

Zainab Ihsanm, career coach and community leader, former refugee (Iraq)

Zaki Kaddoura, salesperson, former refugee (Lebanon, Palestine) 

 

Utah

Dusenge Raheri, shipping employee, former refugee (Burundi)

Gakoranya Jamari, former refugee (Burundi)

Kayobera Maria, packing employee, former refugee (Burundi)

 

Vermont

Clothilde Ntahomvukiye, former refugee (Burundi) 

Michel Mpambazi, former refugee (Burundi) 

 

Virginia

Antoine Nkuruma, essential food worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Antoinette Murekatete, certified nursing assistant and community leader, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

David Nyiringabo, humanitarian worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Denis Mbuto, poultry plant worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Ferwerdin Al Barzanji, interpreter, former refugee (Kurdistan) 

Francie Osando, certified nursing assistant, former refugee (Republic Democratic of Congo) 

Francis Lopaka, essential worker, former refugee (Republic Democratic of Congo)

Hager Ahmad, interpreter and community organizer, former refugee (Sudan)

Hamelmal Shiferaw, registered nurse, former refugee (Ethiopia) 

Issac Masabwa, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Jacques Mushagasha, mediator, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Jonathan Sikabwe, essential worker, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Jyar Abdulla, former refugee (Iraq)

Leons Kabongo, farmer, former refugee (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Nasser Alsaadun, instructor and community leader, former refugee (Iraq)

Om Adhikari, analyst, former refugee (Bhutan) 

Paulin Makungu, community organization president, former refugee (Congo DRC)

Sarah Al Azzawi, banker, former refugee (Iraq) 

Valentina Baljak, data scientist in healthcare, former refugee (Croatia)

 

Washington

Ali Bermani, associate civil engineering specialist, former refugee (Iraq) 

Ban Kaddou, medical doctor certified in surgical pathology, former refugee (Iraq)

Reem Mahmood, housing specialist, former refugee (Iraq) 

Tara Homad, education employee

Tshishiku Henry, case manager and Refugee Congress delegate, former refugee

 

Washington, DC

Mustafa Jumale, immigration policy specialist, former refugee (Somalia) 

Myra Dahgaypaw, nonprofit worker, former refugee (Burma)