The U.S. State Department announced that it will drastically cut down the number of refugee resettlement offices across the country authorized to resettile people since the Trump administration's plans to sharply reduce refugee admissions into the U.S., according to a Reuters report.
The Trump administration's decision to significantly scale down refugee admissions from Obama's 110,000 ceiling to a cap of 45,000 is the lowest number since the modern U.S. refugee program's establishment in 1980.
Aid workers and state officials involved in refugee resettlement said the agencies were informed by the State Department in the Dec. 1 meeting that offices expected to handle fewer than 100 refugees in fiscal year 2018 will no longer be authorized to resettle new arrivals, which means many of them will have to close. There are about 300 resettlement offices spread across 49 states, and advocates estimate several dozen are at risk, though shuttering plans will not be finalized until next year.
Nine non-profit refugee agencies manage refugee resettlement in the U.S., aiding refugees in integrating into America. Of the nine agencies, six are faith-based: Church World Service, Episcopal Migration Ministries, HIAS, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, USCCB, and World Relief.
Due to the administration's policies, World Relief, one of the main nonprofits involved in the U.S. refugee resettlement program, was forced in February to shut down five of their offices and lay off more than 140 staff members.
The pattern of well-established faith groups in the U.S. forced to cease refugee resettlement efforts since federal policy changes continued with the latest closure of nonprofit Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque's 77-year-old Refugee Resettlement ministry on Dec. 18.
"I worked closely with these organizations when I served at the White House," Melissa Rogers, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under Obama, tweeted. "They do heroic work & build tremendous networks with congregations & others to serve persecuted people & help them to rebuild their lives here in the US. Yes, this story deserves much more attention."
Reuters reporting contributed to this story.