With the United States government’s cap on refugees having been reached for the year, the nation’s bishops have issued a plea to the Trump administration to increase the limit in a time of a global refugee crisis.
“Now, these vulnerable populations will not be able to access needed protection and will continue to face danger and exploitation,” said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin July 14.
“Pope Francis reminds us that ‘refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity.’ We must be mindful that every refugee is more than just a number, they are a child of God.”
Speaking in his role as chair the US bishops’ conference Committee on Migration, Bishop Vasquez said he reacted with sadness to the news that the new refugee admissions cap of 50,000 people had been reached for this year.
“While certain refugees who have ‘bona fide relationships’ will still be allowed to arrive, I remain deeply concerned about the human consequences of this limitation and its impact on vulnerable refugees such as unaccompanied refugee children, elderly and infirm refugees, and religious minorities,” the bishop said.
The bishops’ conference added that this year’s cap was “historically low.”
Bishop Vasquez urged the cap for the next fiscal year to be increased to 75,000 individuals.
In March 2017, Bishop Vasquez and the U.S. bishops criticized an executive order of President Donald Trump that reduced the numbers of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S. to 50,000 from 110,000 per year.
His latest statement repeated those words, saying such a limit “does not reflect the need, our compassion, and our capacity as a nation.”
“We firmly believe that as a nation the United States has the good will, character, leadership, and resources to help more vulnerable people seek refuge,” he said. He voiced the Catholic Church’s continued willingness to serve refugees and show solidarity with them.
Bishop Vasquez said the Church would welcome and accompany them “on their journey to protection and safety.”
There are about 22.5 million refugees seeking protection around the world.