This month’s thought leader piece is by New American Pathways CEO, Paedia Mixon. She reflects on the past four years and looks ahead to our newest task- rebuilding the United States’ Refugee Resettlement Program in the Biden Administration.
This week Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took office. It is a historic moment for our country. On day one, the Travel Ban was reversed as part of his “Equity and Inclusion” priority. In the next week, we expect the new administration to raise the ceiling on refugee arrivals, increase capacity for refugee processing overseas and implement other immigration policies to support the world’s most vulnerable. New American Pathways is excited to partner with the Biden Administration to rebuild the refugee resettlement program and create a more welcoming and supportive environment for immigrants in the United States. It will mean a lot of work for New AP and our partners but we know that we are up to the challenge.
The Trump Administration instituted over 400 changes to immigration policy over the past four years with the goal of dramatically reducing the number of immigrants coming to the U.S. in every category. The ceiling on refugee arrivals has been set at a record-breaking low each of the past four years decreasing from 110,000 at the end of the Obama Administration to just 15,000 at the end of the Trump Administration. With this reduction, we have seen a significant decline in capacity in U.S. refugee organizations both in overseas processing and domestic refugee resettlement. One third of the nation’s resettlement agencies have closed in the past four years and those that remain, including New American Pathways, have made significant cuts or program pivots to survive. Additionally, the travel ban has separated families and denied life-saving resettlement services to tens of thousands of people in the direst of circumstances.
Our mission over the next few years is to quickly increase our capacity to welcome and serve newly arrived refugees so that we can provide safety to those who need it the most. We cannot rebuild the resettlement program alone. Refugee resettlement has always been a community effort. In the coming months, as vaccines become more available and we begin to recover from this pandemic, we will be asking you, our partners and supporters, to help us by making financial contributions, donating furniture and basic needs items to help us build up our inventory and registering to volunteer. Please stay connected with us on ways you can help rebuild the refugee resettlement program as we all work together to help refugees and Georgia thrive.