Franciscan Action Network Opposes Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act

For Immediate Release
March 15, 2016

The Franciscan Action Network (FAN) urges members of the House Judiciary Committee to oppose H.R. 4731, the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act. Refugee resettlement is a longstanding, life-saving American tradition that has recently become unjustly maligned and politicized. In the midst of today’s global refugee crisis, the consequences of legislation such as H.R. 4731 cannot be overstated. Pope Francis, in his address to Congress in September, stated, “The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

H.R. 4731 would impose a sharp reduction in refugee admissions by capping resettlement at 60,000 refugees per year and making any increase nearly impossible. At a time when the humanitarian community is facing the worst displacement crisis since World War II, reducing refugee admissions would only take our country backward. FAN released a statement in November 2015 urging an increase in the resettlement of refugees this year.

"FAN collaborates with faith partners to welcome and support refugees as new neighbors," said Sr. Marie Lucey, FAN Director of Advocacy, "and we will continue to stand up for them."

By mandating that the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) prioritize religious minorities, H.R. 4731 attempts to prevent Muslim refugees from being resettled to the United States. It is paramount that the USRAP stay true to its mission to resettle the most vulnerable individuals who face persecution due to any of the five grounds: race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. H.R. 4731 would, for the first time in U.S. history, prioritize one of those five grounds above the others.

This legislation would also mandate expensive and redundant measures within the refugee screening processes, despite the fact that refugees are already the most vetted individuals to enter the United States. It would triple the length of time a refugee must wait before applying for lawful permanent residency from one year to three years, which would be a significant barrier to integration and family reunification which we support. In addition, allowing state and local governments who “disapprove” of refugees to stop resettlement in their localities would violate anti-discrimination laws and infringe on the federal government’s jurisdiction over immigration policy set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

Overall, the deceptively titled Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act undermines the very principles this nation was built upon and dishonors our shared humanity. As we all seek ways to meaningfully respond to the global refugee crisis, FAN urges all members of the House Judiciary Committee to oppose H.R. 4731 and any proposal that would reduce access to protection for refugees.  In the words of Pope Francis, “We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories.”