Quigley, Schakowsky Send Letter to Secretary Pompeo Addressing Potential Closure of Chicago’s Refugee Resettlement Agencies
Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) sent a letter to Secretary of State Pompeo advocating for the United States’ role as a global leader in protecting refugees and asking for further information on the Administration’s plans for refugee resettlement agencies and resources in the Chicago metropolitan area. You can read the full letter here or see excerpts below.
“It is our understanding that due to the Trump Administration’s historically low refugee ceiling for FY 2019 of 30,000, resettlement agencies will be forced to close local affiliates and reduce staffing and other capacity even further than they already have,” wrote the Members. “Given those extremely low numbers, the Department of State has identified the Chicago area as one of the several metropolitan areas with excess capacity and has asked the national refugee resettlement agencies to work with each other to develop a plan to close three of the six offices in Chicago, along with staffing reductions, and other cuts. We urge you to reconsider these short-sighted cuts and instead maintain the full capacity of those agencies so that our area will be able to handle what will certainly be higher numbers of refugees in the future.”
Earlier this year, President Trump announced his plan to cap the number of refugees that can be resettled in the United States next year at 30,000, further cutting an already drastically scaled-back program that offers protection to foreigners fleeing violence and persecution. Historically, the United States has admitted an average of 80,000 refugees annually, and in moments of urgent need has significantly increased that number, as evidenced by record high refugee arrivals under both the Reagan and Bush Administrations
“Refugee resettlement has been a cornerstone of American policy for decades…Our districts have benefitted tremendously from refugees who have made Illinois their home and who have received assistance from our refugee resettlement offices…. Illinois alone has resettled over 129,000 refugees from 86 countries since 1975. The resettlement agencies in Chicago have been critical in helping refugees find jobs, establish new businesses, enroll their children in schools, receive culturally appropriate health services, and successfully obtain citizenship. These agencies work hard to ensure that each refugee becomes economically self-sufficient, and proud, contributory American citizens,” the letter continues.