The taxpayer-funded voluntary agencies (VOLAGs), whose primary purpose is to resettle refugees across the country, are publicly whining about the Supreme Court’s travel ban decision handed down on Wednesday.
Their lobbying arm–the Refugee Council USA–is leading the wailing, and the VOLAGs and refugee resettlement agencies that comprise it are weighing in separately as well.
Within hours of the announcement of the 5-4 Supreme Court decision that found President Trump’s travel ban on residents of certain countries constitutional, the Refugee Council USA sent out this tweet:
On the day SCOTUS upholds the Administration’s Travel Ban, let’s take a look at refugee arrivals numbers. A devastating low two weeks of arrivals. Only 901 people made it to safety on U.S. soil in the since June 11, bringing total arrivals YTD to 15,788. Unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/VvUkYI1rrN
— Refugee Council USA (@RCUSA_DC) June 26, 2018
“Taxpayers give Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society $24 million a year and yet they team with Linda Sarsour to protest the President on immigration,” Refugee Resettlement Watch’s Ann Corcoran reported on Wednesday afternoon:
— Ann Corcoran (@RefugeeWatcher) June 28, 2018
“The Muslim Ban is not simply an exercise in executive authority, it’s the Trump Administration’s official license to discriminate on the basis of religion and nationality. HIAS is disappointed in the Supreme Court’s affirmation of these policies of religious discrimination, fear and tribalism, which have permeated nearly every aspect of America’s tradition of welcome,” HIAS (formerly Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) president Mark Hetfield said in a statement released by the organization Wednesday.
“From the crackdown on people legally seeking asylum to the dramatic diminishment of the life-saving refugee resettlement program, the Trump Administration has been an unrelenting 17 month assault against America’s values as a nation welcoming of immigrants and refugees,” Hetfield added:
As one of the first organizations to challenge the refugee and Muslim bans in court last year, HIAS will continue to work with local partners and the Jewish community to uphold the legacy of what America can and should be as a country. Together, we will continue fighting to ensure that this period is merely another short, dark chapter temporarily interrupting America’s history as a nation that accepts people without judging them by faith or national origin. HIAS and the American Jewish community have seen such discrimination trap members of our own community, and we will not stand by silently as it happens to others.
The HIAS statement continued:
In addition to the ban on Muslim travelers, this administration has left tens of thousands of vulnerable refugees stranded in dangerous situations, unable to find safety on our shores or reunite with family members who are already here in the U.S.
The number of Muslim refugees admitted to the United States so far this year is down 89 percent from the prior federal fiscal year, from 21,565 to 2,452. Although admissions of refugees of all faiths have dropped significantly, from 48,856 to 15,788, the relative proportion of Muslim refugees has dropped even more. At this point in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, Muslim refugees comprised 45% and 44% of total refugee admissions, respectively. As of June 26 during the current fiscal year, however, Muslim refugees represent just 15% of total admissions.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which receives millions of federal dollars annually to resettle refugees through its Catholic Charities arm, also criticized the travel ban decision, as Catholic News reported:
A statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying it “failed to take into account the clear and unlawful targeting of a specific religious group by the government.”
“The Catholic Church takes a strong stand against religious discrimination, and we will continue to advocate for the rights of people of all faiths, as well as serve migrants and refugees through our various ministries,” said the June 27 joint statement signed by two USCCB committee chairs, Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, head of the Committee on Migration, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, head of the Committee for Religious Liberty.
Catholic Charities USA similarly said they were disappointed with the ruling, adding that it will “close the door of hope to many around the world fleeing violence, persecution and death.”
The VOLAGs, who have received more than $1 billion collectively each year from the federal government to resettle refugees in the United States until this fiscal year, are now cash strapped, due to the dramatic reduction in refugees resettled in FY 2018 under the Trump administration’s policies.