Since 1917, Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSS/NCA) has aided the most vulnerable among us and since World War II, it has resettled thousands of displaced persons and refugees fleeing war and persecution. Current U.S. policy about refugee resettlement continues to change, complicating resettlement efforts and limiting refugee arrivals.
For fiscal year 2019 the Trump Administration has set a nationwide ceiling of 30,000, a drop from the FY 2018 total of 45,000. This is the lowest number established in the program’s 39-year history. Since the program’s inception the United States has set an average annual admissions goal of 95,000 and has resettled as many as 200,000 people in certain years. With over 25 million registered refugees and over 68 million people forcibly displaced worldwide, there has never been a more urgent need for the U.S. to show leadership. Refugee resettlement honors America’s legacy of welcoming those fleeing persecution and oppression and is an important part of our country’s past, present and future. National security experts have repeatedly said that the refugee resettlement program supports our allies in refugee host countries and reinforces stability and liberty around the world.
Every donor, congregation, community partner, staff member, and volunteer plays an integral role in restoring hope for the refugees we serve. Please stay informed and share the facts with others. Together, we will continue to welcome and embrace our neighbors. By doing so, we live our faith and demonstrate the love and compassion that has defined our call to service and our organization for 100 years.
Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program
In its FY 2019 budget the Trump Administration requested funding for 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who assisted United States troops as translators, interpreters and other workers during the war. Advocates are asking Congress to fund this request in the final version of the FY 2019 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill.
Rationale for seeking this amount:
- The United States’ presence in Afghanistan has relied on the life-saving assistance of Afghans who put themselves in danger to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats and contractors.
- Many of these allies joined U.S. forces to combat violence perpetrated by al-Qaeda, ISIL and the Taliban and now they and their families are targets of terrorism by these same groups.
- Many veterans that served alongside Afghan allies attribute their lives to these individuals and feel strongly that they should be welcomed into the United States as a tribute to their service.
- When we fail to uphold our promises, America’s credibility is severely undermined.
- We want to show the Afghan people that we will follow through on our word and maintain their support of our efforts.
- Other potential allies in the future may be discouraged from assisting U.S. efforts if they don’t think they will be protected and kept safe in return for their work.
How will the 2018 election alter current refugee resettlement trends and influence support for Special Immigrant Visas? Listen to a Post-Election webinar here.
LSS/NCA Comments on DHS Proposed “Public Charge” Rule
A November 19th letter from CEO Christine Connell provides LSS/NCA’s comments on a Department of Homeland Security proposed rule that significantly expands the definition of what benefits constitutes “public charge” for purposes of legal immigration. The rule published in the Federal Register on October 10th (DHS Docket No. USCIS-2010-0012), with a comment deadline of December 10th, significantly alters the current practice that limits public charge benefits to persons who would likely depend on public cash benefits or long-term care at the government’s expense by also including TANF, SSI SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare Part D and Section 8 housing assistance. The rule would force immigrants to choose between seeking benefits for themselves or their families on a short term basis versus the opportunity to attain or maintain legal immigrant status. LSS/NCA strongly urges DHS not to promulgate the rule, which is yet another way of hurting immigrants.