Since President Trump entered office, he has consistently set the refugee admission ceiling to unprecedented lows. Most recently, he announced a refugee admission ceiling of 18,000 for fiscal year 2020, the lowest in the history of the program. 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
- Before the beginning of each fiscal year, the president decides how many refugees may be resettled in the United States. This number is known as the annual “refugee ceiling” or the “presidential determination”.
- Since 1980, the average refugee ceiling has exceeded 95,000. However, the refugee ceiling has been on a downward trajectory since President Trump entered office.
- On September 27, President Trump set the refugee ceiling to 18,000 for fiscal year 2020, down almost 84% since President Obama left office and the lowest the program has ever seen. This could mean huge setbacks to refugee resettlement in the US for years to come.
- To prevent further reductions to the refugee ceiling and to return the refugee program to its historic state, 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. This bill would set a minimum of 95,000 for the refugee admissions ceiling, in line with previous years and representative of our country’s historical commitment to refugee resettlement.
Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I live in zip code [YOUR ZIP CODE].
I am calling today to ask [NAME OF CONGRESSPERSON] to co-sponsor the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement Act, also known as the GRACE Act, in support of the refugee resettlement program. Since 1980, the average refugee admission ceiling has exceeded 95,000 refugees. Since President Trump entered office, he has continuously set the refugee admission ceiling to unprecedented lows, most recently to 18,000 refugees for fiscal year 2020. This is concerning because the world is currently facing the highest number of displaced people it has ever seen at 70.8 million.
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. A refugee ceiling lower than 95,000 does not reflect the global demand for refugee resettlement.
- 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. Lowering the refugee ceiling does not improve national security.
- Refugees strengthen the economy by contributing as consumers and taxpayers. Entrepreneurship among refugees is about 50% higher than natural-born citizens in the US. Reducing refugee resettlement harms the US economy in the long run.
- 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).
- 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. A bill like the GRACE Act would prevent these negative consequences.
- 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.
- President Trump did not fulfill the legal requirement to meet with congress before setting the refugee ceiling for fiscal year 2020. The GRACE Act would place a necessary minimum on the refugee ceiling, preventing the president from making an uninformed decision to cut the program in the future.
- 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