I’d like to draw attention to a silently growing crisis that, without intervention, will soon have a drastic effect on one of the most vulnerable migrant populations in the United States: refugees. We must act now to protect critically needed services to these vulnerable men, women, and children.
After listening closely to the State of the Union address and two recent Congressional hearings, I’m optimistic about the collaborative efforts by Congress and President Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. However, amid the buzz surrounding immigration reform, one serious issue that has slipped out of the public eye is the looming funding crisis in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the federal agency that partners with organizations like LIRS to provide care and safe haven to refugees fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries.
Due to a recent surge of violence in Central America, an increased number of unaccompanied migrant children have fled their home countries, traveling up through Mexico to find safety in the United States. For this fiscal year (FY 2013), ORR budgeted to care for 14,000 children coming into the country. However, 20,000 children are expected to cross the border alone by the end of FY 2013, leaving a major budget shortfall. If Congress does not act soon, ORR will likely scramble to borrow funding from other programs that provide vital services to refugees, such as employment and educational services. Moreover, we could see a decline in refugee arrivals in years to come, breaking our moral and ethical commitment to provide refuge for individuals and families worldwide.
I’m asking for your commitment to visit our Action Center now to protect the future of vital services to refugees, children, and all the populations ORR serves. In your letters to elected officials on supporting unaccompanied migrant children and humane immigration reform, urge lawmakers to ensure that the ORR budget crisis will be solved so that the United States can continue providing necessary services to vulnerable refugees.