MN Refugees' Advocates Urge Patience in Changing Resettlement Policies
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
MINNEAPOLIS -- President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to bring back America's welcoming approach toward immigrants and refugees. One Minnesota group says that's restored hope in getting more people resettled, but cautions that patience is needed.
The cap on refugee admissions declined every year during Donald Trump's presidency, to a record low of 15,000 for 2021. Biden has said he wants to boost the number to 125,000.
Micaela Schuneman, refugee services director for the International Institute of Minnesota said that would even be above the historical average prior to Trump's term, but she said any changes wouldn't happen overnight.
"Because of a lot of the administrative changes that happened, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is going to have to hire more staff," she said. "They're gonna have to get back to processing cases at the level that they were processed before."
She said it could take up to a couple years to see higher numbers of refugees after the changes are reversed. A number of resettlement agencies that work with the federal government scaled back their operations when the Trump administration downsized the program. In the last fiscal year, the Institute brought 109 new residents from other countries to Minnesota, down from more than 500 in the final year of the Obama administration.
While the executive branch gets to set the refugee cap, Congress has to authorize funding for that level. Schuneman said that's why it's important to get the backing of lawmakers as well. She noted that, historically, there's been bipartisan support on Capitol Hill -- but the last four years have been difficult for the people they're trying to help.
"We saw quite a few family members, of course, who were very distraught, very sad, when we'd have to call them and tell them a case had been delayed," she said.
Schuneman also said clients were a little more reluctant to speak openly about their own case or a family member's, given some of the heated rhetoric in recent years. Outside of restoring the resettlement infrastructure, those involved estimate a backlog of 120,000 refugees who are waiting in the wings.
get more stories like this via email
DENVER - On Wednesday, leaders from Colorado's 13 community colleges joined a national effort to help more of the state's adults get credentials and …
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Today, a virtual summit hosted by the Las Vegas Mayor's Faith Initiative looks at the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous …
HOUSTON -- Many U.S. communities with bustling downtowns were better prepared to weather economic fallout from the pandemic, thanks to a decades-old …
MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- A Wisconsin group that advocates for working families is launching a new campaign, which connects federal policy to the …
SEATTLE - Constructive conversations online can seem few and far between. Research from the University of Washington explores how the design of …
Health and Wellness
WATERLOO, Iowa -- Advocates for Iowans with disabilities are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a caregiver crisis, pleading with …
BRAINERD, Minn. - Minnesota boat owners are storing their watercraft for the winter. But that isn't stopping the conversation about responsible water …
BOISE, Idaho - Millions of members around the world, including some Idahoans, are observing International Credit Union Day today. This year marks 73…