Today’s Need

Today's Need

Some officials in the Trump administration have proposed admitting zero refugees in Fiscal Year 2020. This is unconscionable and would be the end of refugee resettlement in the United States. We need you to contact your senators and congressional representatives to speak out against the dismantling of the refugee resettlement program.

CALL TO ACTION

Join us by calling for the passage of the Grace Act:

  • Call your senators and representative (find them here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members)
  • Call two out-of-town friends or family members and ask them to call their senators and representative every single day
  • Do it again as often as you can
  • Share this Call to Action widely

 

Call Pennsylvania Senators

Patrick “Pat” Toomey (R)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 224-4254

Local Offices: (215) 241-1090, (610) 434-1444

 

Robert “Bob” Casey (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 224-6324

Local Offices: (215) 405-9660, (610) 782-9470

Call Philadelphia Area Congressional Representatives

District 1: Brian Fitzpatrick (R)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-4276

Local Office: (215) 579-8102

 

District 2: Brendan Boyle (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-6111

Local Offices: (215) 335-3355, (267) 335-5643, (215) 426-4616, (215) 982-1156

 

District 3: Dwight Evans (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-4001

Local Office: (215) 276-0340

 

District 4: Madeleine Dean (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-4731

District Offices: (215) 884-4300, (610) 382-1250

 

District 5: Mary Gay Scanlon (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-2051

District Office: (610) 626-1913

 

District 6: Chrissy Houlahan (D)

Washington D.C. Office: (202) 225-4315

District Offices: (610) 883-5050, (610) 295-0815

Background Information

  • The president decides how many refugees may be resettled in the United States each fiscal year. This number is known as the Refugee Admissions Ceiling.
  • Since 1980, the average refugee ceiling has exceeded 95,000. In fiscal year 2019, President Trump set the refugee ceiling at 30,000, less than one third the average ceiling since 1980.
  • Recent reports have suggested that the refugee ceiling will be set between 0 and 10,000 for fiscal year 2020. This is unacceptable and would mean huge setbacks to refugee resettlement in the US for years to come.
  • We need you to call your senators and congressional representatives and tell them to support the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement Act, also known as the GRACE Act, which would set a minimum of 95,000 for the refugee admissions ceiling. This is in line with previous years and represents our country’s historical commitment to refugee resettlement.

Script

Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in [YOUR ZIP CODE].

I am calling today to ask [NAME OF CONGRESSPERSON] to do everything in their power to ensure that President Trump sets the refugee ceiling at 95,000 for fiscal year 2020. I am asking for 95,000 because that has been the average annual refugee ceiling since 1980.

There have been recent reports that the administration is considering a ceiling between 0 and 10,000. This is concerning because the world is currently facing the highest number of displaced people it has ever seen at 70.8 million.

One way that [NAME OF CONGRESSPERSON] can help is by supporting the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement Act, also known as the GRACE Act, which would set the refugee resettlement floor at 95,000. Please pass along my message about the importance of maintaining refugee acceptance and that I urge [NAME OF CONGRESSPERSON] to support the GRACE Act.

Further Talking Points

  • There are 70.8 million forcibly displaced people as of 2019, the highest number the world has ever seen. 
  • Refugees are the most highly vetted category of immigrants to the United States. Before their arrival, they must undergo a six-step vetting process that often takes years to complete.
  • Refugees strengthen the economy by contributing as consumers and taxpayers. Entrepreneurship among refugees is about 50% higher than natural-born citizens in the US. 
  • The current administration claims it is necessary to reduce refugee resettlement because of high volumes of asylum seekers arriving at our southern border who are fleeing violence and persecution. However, the administration has also made concerted efforts to deter asylum seekers at the southern border by:
    • Instituting zero-tolerance policies on illegal border crossings resulting in family separation
    • Pursuing “Safe Third Country” agreements with Mexico and Guatemala, barring many asylum-seekers who must travel through other countries before arriving in the United States
    • Instituting the “Remain in Mexico” policy, forcing asylum seekers to await their US immigration hearings in Mexican border cities.
    • These attacks against asylum in tandem with cuts to the refugee program demonstrate this administration welcomes no one, no matter how they seek safety, no matter what persecution they face.
  • There is no validity to the claim that United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) does not have the capacity to interview or screen refugees, especially given the recent news that USCIS is urging its officers to volunteer with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Nearly 40,000 refugees are already approved for resettlement in the US or at various stages in the process. A drastic reduction or shutdown of the refugee resettlement program would cause many cases to be cancelled, setting desperate families back at square one. This is a betrayal in violation of our country’s values and humanitarian obligations.
  • Refusing refugees could create a ripple-effect in which other countries follow the lead of the United States and stop welcoming refugees. This could cause instability in regions facing particularly high numbers of refugees and strain international relations, creating further conflict.
  • A drastic reduction or shutdown of refugee resettlement in the US would have grave consequences for the refugee resettlement program going forward. Existing systems and structures of support would be destroyed. Many refugee resettlement agencies would be forced to close. The negative consequences of such a decision would span much further into the future than the next fiscal year.
  • For 40 years, refugee resettlement has been a bi-partisan-supported program, recognized by our government and our military not only as an important humanitarian program but as a vital international peace-keeping tool.
  • Welcoming refugees who speak different languages, practice different religions, eat different foods and come from different cultures teaches tolerance. We learn to appreciate one another and in the course of providing critical, integration services, we teach the newcomers about our culture and our democracy.
  • The current administration’s anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies feed into hateful rhetoric surrounding immigrants at the center of recent acts of violence, such as the shootings in Pittsburgh and El Paso. Rejection of refugees sends a message that refugees are harmful to our country. This false message could fuel future violence against immigrants.

Tips For a Successful Phone Banking Event

  • If possible, hold your event during business hours. You are more likely to get a staffer on the phone this way. Remember, the purpose of calling your representative is not only to inform but to disrupt the office’s business-as-usual. Calling is thought to be a more effective form of advocacy than sending letters and e-mails because a phone call must be answered and recorded as it happens and cannot be set aside for later. That being said, if you cannot hold your event during business hours, callers may leave messages on their representatives’ answering machines. In the end, it is most important that the calls are made regardless of the time of day.
  • Provide refreshments. Calling representatives can feel scary for some people, so making the environment as comfortable as possible and providing sustenance is important!
  • Encourage attendees to call the house representatives and senators of their own districts and states. While you technically can call house reps and senators who do not represent you, it is unlikely to be very effective. House reps and senators tend to only record the concerns of their own constituents who will determine their success in the next election. You are welcome to call other offices, but should prioritize calls to your house reps and senators.
  • Provide phone banking materials to community members who cannot attend the event. Calls can be made at any time from any place, so no one should feel limited by their inability to attend the event!
  • Encourage participants to continue making calls after the event. The more we call, the more our representatives are forced to hear the reasons that a zeroing-out of the refugee program is unacceptable. Encourage participants to make calls every day to their representatives and out-of-state friends and family. If you call your representatives frequently, consider using different talking points each time to get your point across.

Sample Social Media Posts

  • America stands for welcome, banning refugees and asylum seekers is not who we are or what we stand for. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • Shutting down the refugee resettlement program is an assault on our values. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • Refugees built America, we must not slam the door on those seeking safety. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • Banning refugees would hurt our communities. We must say no. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • @realDonaldTrump, turning our backs on Iraqis who worked alongside our military is wrong and unacceptable. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • We must protect religious minorities and other families in harm’s way. If we don’t, no one will. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement
  • Who will be harmed by shutting down the refugee resettlement program? Victims of violent conflict, American communities, families who are separated, our allies. ALL OF US. #NORefugeeBans #SaveRefugeeResettlement

LEARN MORE ABOUT REFUGEES:

Learn more about the refugee experience and educate those around you about the importance of providing refuge for those fleeing persecution:

  1. September 10th 1-5PM: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church will be hosting a Rise for Refuge Phone Bank in Parish Hall (36 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, PA 19003). Join them in asking congress to protect the refugee resettlement program. 
  2. September 21st at 2PM: Join us at the screening of the Island of The Immigration Paradox, a documentary which attempts to understand why people would risk their lives to come to the U.S. and why others would try to keep them out, made by Mexico-born Arizona-raised director Lourdes Lee Vasquez. We will be hosting a talk back after the film. The screening is at Kingsessing Library (1201 S 51st St, Phila, PA 19143). This event is free and open to the public. 
  3. Want general information about immigration and refugee resettlement? Click here for additional talking points.

Advocate for immigrants today.