A coalition of Republican and Democrat Senators sent President Trump a letter last month, begging his administration to bring “as many refugees as possible” to the United States next year.
In a letter dated August 5 — before Trump announced he would lower the refugee resettlement cap to a maximum of 18,000 admissions for Fiscal Year 2020 — Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE) led a group of lawmakers to ask that the president increase the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. every year beyond the current year’s 30,000 admissions ceiling.
The lawmakers include:
- Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN)
- Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD)
- Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE)
- Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH)
- Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
- Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
- Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
- Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)
Likewise, the lawmakers called reports “alarming” that the Trump administration would halt the refugee resettlement program for Fiscal Year 2020 for national security reasons and said the U.S. has a responsibility, above all else, to be compassionate to the world’s migrants:
While some Members of Congress have already expressed their displeasure with the FY2019 resettlement cap, and the lower-than-normal admittance numbers for FY2017 and FY2018, eliminating refugee admittance altogether is even more alarming. At a time when we are facing the “highest levels of displacement on record,” according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, we urge you to increase the refugee resettlement cap and to admit as many refugees as possible within that cap. America has a responsibility to promote compassion and democracy around the world through assistance to vulnerable and displaced people. [Emphasis added]
Though research has found that refugee resettlement to the U.S. costs American taxpayers nearly $9 billion every five years, the lawmakers said surges in refugees are necessary for economic growth.
The Senators wrote:
Refugee populations significantly benefit local and national economies. Economists have found that refugees ultimately contribute billions more in taxes than they receive in benefits and that refugees are more likely to start their own businesses and create jobs. In 2015 alone, more than 180,000 refugee-owned enterprises generated $4.6 billion in business income, more than the United States’ annual budget for refugee resettlement.
Increasing refugee resettlement would have broken from Trump’s initial 2015 and 2016 campaign commitment where he promised to reduce overall immigration to the U.S. His latest reduction of refugee admissions for next year to 18,000 total translates to about an 80 percent cut to former President Obama’s soaring refugee resettlement levels when nearly 85,000 refugees were admitted in a single year.
Coupled with Trump’s reduction to refugee resettlement is an executive order that will give localities and small American communities veto power over whether they want to absorb large numbers of refugees.
As Breitbart News’s Michael Patrick Leahy has extensively reported, towns in Tennessee have brought a lawsuit to sue the federal government for resettling refugees in the state without notifying state officials, local communities and residents. Other states like Maine, similarly, have been forced to take inflows of Somali refugees for years with no say in their resettlement.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.