FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Kristyn Peck, CEO
Washington D.C. – Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) welcomes President Biden’s move to double the number of refugees welcomed to the United States to 125,000 beginning on October 1st as outlined in his report to Congress released on September 20th.
LSSNCA has welcomed refugees and others forced to flee their countries due to violence and persecution since World War II, serving 10,0000 refugees since 2001. In 2016, LSSNCA served 1,625 refugees; a record for the organization. During the Trump Administration, the U.S. refugee resettlement program was systematically dismantled, and the United States, which had historically been a global leader in its response to welcoming humanitarian refugees, saw historic lows of refugee admissions. In the four years of the Trump Administration, LSSNCA served approximately 500 refugees a year.
“This number signals restoration of the United States’ global leadership as a country that welcomes those who are forced from their homes and seeking safety and protection,” said Kristyn Peck, CEO of LSSNCA. “Raising the refugee ceiling signals hope to the more than 82.4 million persons worldwide who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries due to persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, according to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency.”
Included in the refugee admission numbers are Afghan Allies who arrive with Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status and who access the same benefits and services as someone arriving with refugee status. LSSNCA has served nearly 500 Afghan SIV holders since July 31. However, many Afghan Allies who have aided U.S. missions are arriving through a humanitarian parole status as their Visas were not completed prior to the Taliban’s takeover of the country. Afghan Allies with humanitarian parole status are ineligible for benefits through the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. LSSNCA has served 175 Afghan Allies with humanitarian parole status in recent weeks.
“Critical to the long-term stability of the U.S. refugee resettlement program is ensuring parity in services provided to Afghan Allies,” said Peck. “Afghans with humanitarian parole status must have access to the same services and benefits as those arriving with SIV status,” she said. “Anything less is a gaping hole in the safety net necessary to set up our new neighbors for success, and thus, puts the overall U.S. refugee resettlement program at risk,” she said.
Since 1917, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) has promoted welcoming and compassionate communities with the help of partners and volunteers. Today, LSSNCA serves the Washington Metropolitan Area through refugee and immigrant resettlement, workforce development, foster care for unaccompanied refugee minors, adoption services, CARE for Newcomers, healthy relationships education, and Youth Haven.