Jewish groups urge Trump administration to restore higher refugee quotas
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Jewish groups urge Trump administration to restore higher refugee quotas

‘Our parents or grandparents, neighbors or community members once faced a similarly callous and unwelcoming world, with fatal consequences,’ groups say in letter to Pompeo

Refugees, advocates and faith leaders rally in front of the White House to call for refugee protections on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2017. (HIAS/via JTA)
Refugees, advocates and faith leaders rally in front of the White House to call for refugee protections on World Refugee Day, June 20, 2017. (HIAS/via JTA)

Some 167 national, state and local Jewish organizations, including the major umbrella bodies of the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform streams, have called on the US government to meet the refugee resettlement admissions goal for this year.

The goal for fiscal year 2019 is 30,000, a historically low figure.

A letter signed by the organizations was delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday.

The signers cross the religious and political spectrum of the American Jewish community, including major Orthodox umbrella groups Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America, Conservative Judaism’s Rabbinical Assembly, and Reform Judaism’s Central Conference of American Rabbis and Union for Reform Judaism.

Other prominent signers include the Jewish Federations of North America, J Street, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, HIAS, B’nai B’rith International and American Jewish World Service.

Protesters march on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC on February 4, 2017 against US President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees entering the US. (AFP Photo/Molly Riley)

“The United States has historically distinguished itself as a beacon of hope and as a safe haven for those who most need it,” the letter says, noting that the global refugee population reached a record 25.9 million in 2018.

It points out that for nearly 40 years, the refugee admissions target averaged 95,000 per year, with actual admissions averaging about 80,000. The Trump administration set the 30,000 ceiling for 2019.

“Resettling zero refugees in the US in FY2020 would effectively gut the refugee resettlement program, violate our values as Jews and Americans, and abdicate the American promise of freedom and opportunity,” the letter adds, calling for the previous refugee target of 95,000 to be restored.

“These actions – turning our backs on people fleeing for their lives – defy the proud promise indelibly inscribed on the Statute of Liberty. As Jews, we know all too well what happens when people fleeing for their lives have nowhere to turn. Our parents or grandparents, neighbors or community members once faced a similarly callous and unwelcoming world, with fatal consequences.”

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