This bill — the Lady Liberty Act of 2018 — would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish a minimum number of refugees who could be admitted to the U.S. in any fiscal year after 2018. It’d require the president to set a goal of admitting no fewer than 110,000 refugees annually.
What is House Bill H.R. 6909?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 6909
In-Depth: Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced this legislation to reverse the Trump administration’s recent actions to severely limit refugee resettlement in the U.S.:
“The Trump administration is once again slamming the door on refugees. Against a record high global refugee crisis, the Trump administration’s record-low refugee admissions cap is dangerous and un-American. The Lady Liberty Act will reverse this callous backslide and restore America’s leadership role in refugee resettlement. No one chooses to be a refugee. These people are seeking safety and a better life. Congress has a moral responsibility to stand up to the President and let the world know we are still a welcoming and compassionate nation.”
“The impacts of reduced refugee resettlement are far-reaching at home and abroad: The U.S. is abandoning the most in-need refugee populations, including religious minorities; those who assisted U.S. troops and missions overseas; families seeking to be unified with their loved ones; and the 50 percent of refugees who are children. Our allies hosting more than their fair share abroad and our local communities across the U.S. are also feeling the consequences. This slowdown is in stark contrast to the resettlement program’s long history of support and success, with over 3 million refugees resettled in the U.S. since 1980. Resettled refugees provide widespread economic bene ts across the country and revitalize local communities experiencing demographic decline. The program is also instrumental to U.S. foreign policy, supporting the success of diplomatic missions and national security objectives overseas.”
The Trump administration’s refugee policy supports efforts to host displaced persons “as close to their home countries as possible.” In comments to the U.N. General Assembly last September, President Trump called this “the safe, responsible and humanitarian approach,” and argued that it’s also more cost-effective, claiming that “for the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.”
The Center for Immigration Studies, which produced the cost estimates President Trump cited in his comments to the U.N., made the case that resettling Middle Eastern refugees in the U.S. is significantly more expensive than other solutions:
“The U.S. government publishes some information on welfare use and money spent to resettle refugees in the United States. Based on that information, this analysis finds that the costs of resettling refugees in the United States are quite high, even without considering all of the costs refugees create. We conservatively estimate that the costs total $64,370 in the first five years for each Middle Eastern refugee. This is 61 times what it costs to care for one Syrian refugee in a neighboring country for a single year or about 12 times the cost of providing for a refugee for five years. It must be kept in mind that refugees are admitted for humanitarian reasons, so the high cost of refugee resettlement is to be expected. But funds are limited and UNHCR is chronically short of money to help the millions of refugees in the world, including those in the Middle East. There are always competing demands on government resources. And while the public may feel a strong sense of sympathy for those in dire circumstances, their willingness to help has limits. If policymakers want to make optimal use of American resources to help those fleeing war, they should consider alternatives to resettling refugees in this country.”
The Trump administration has also suggested that refugees may pose a security risk. However, refugee advocates point out that no refugees were involved in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and no refugees have been responsible for terrorism-related deaths in the U.S. after 9/11.
This bill has the support of 62 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. It has the endorsements of the Family Action Network Movement, (FANM), Human Rights First, International Rescue Committee (IRC), United States Committee for Refugees and immigrants (USCRI), and others.
Of Note: The Trump administration recently set a cap of 30,000 for refugees admitted to the U.S. in fiscal year 2019 — a decrease of 15,000 from 45,000 in 2018. These numbers are a reversal of historic U.S. policy. Since 1980, the US. has resettled over 3 million refugees, setting an average annual goal of 95,000 refugee admissions. The previous low ceiling for refugee resettlement in the U.S. was 67,000, set by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
A 110,000 annual target is well within precedent. President Reagan twice set a ceiling of over 200,000 to address humanitarian crises, and President Obama set a refugee admissions target of 110,000 for 2017.
- Sponsoring Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-CA) Press Release
- The Atlantic (Context)
- International Rescue Committee Report (Context)
- Center for Immigration Studies Report (Context)
- Pew Research Center (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Michal Fiałkowski)
Lady Liberty Act of 2018
To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for a minimum number of refugees who may be admitted in any fiscal year after fiscal year 2018, and for other purposes.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryIntroducedSeptember 26th, 2018
- house Committees