Juan Vargas

From the office of:

Juan Vargas

Sending Office: Honorable Juan Vargas
Sent By:

Support Refugee-Related Accounts in FY20 Appropriations

**Programmatic Request**
Deadline: COB March 26, 2019


Current Cosigners: Reps. Joyce Beatty, Peter A. DeFazio, Jan Schakowsky, Chellie Pingree, André Carson, James P. McGovern, Denny Heck, Mark DeSaulnier, Thomas R. Suozzi, Ron Kind, Marc Veasey, Steve Cohen, Gwen Moore, Ted Deutch, Joaquin
Castro, Donald M Payne Jr., Kathleen M. Rice, Ami Bera, Alan S. Lowenthal, Frank Pallone Jr., Danny K. Davis, Gerald E. Connolly, John P. Sarbanes, John A. Yarmuth, James R. Langevin, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Al Green, Eleanor H. Norton, Eliot Engel

Dear Colleague:

We invite you to join us in supporting refugee-related accounts for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations submissions. As you may know, 60 million people are displaced around the world, the largest number since World War II. Historically, the United States
has recognized its moral and legal imperative to lead by example in addressing global issues such as refugee resettlement. That is why our nation is the largest resettlement country in the world, taking in almost 70 percent of all refugees resettled by the
UNHCR globally last year. In order to meet the needs of refugee assistance and resettlement programs, we must ensure that adequate funding is provided to local communities to help refugees integrate and thrive.

We are asking that the respective appropriations subcommittees substantially increase funds to meet the needs for the following refugee-related accounts:

The Refugee and Entrant Assistance account in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill.
The Migration and Refugee Assistance account in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.
Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.
The International Disaster Assistance account in the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill.
The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Homeland Security appropriations bill.

To join us on this letter, or if you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Hannah Ceja at (202-225-8045).


Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress

Member of Congress


March XX, 2019

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro, Chair               The Honorable Tom Cole, Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor           Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor

Health and Human Services, Education            Health and Human Service, Education

and Related Agencies                                        and Related Agencies

2358-B Rayburn HOB                                       1016 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                   Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey, Chair                The Honorable Hal Rogers, Ranking Member

Committee on Appropriations                            Committee on Appropriations

Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations      Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

and Related Programs                                         and Related Programs

HT-2, The Capitol                                              1016 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515                                      Washington, DC 20515


The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard                The Honorable Chuck Fleischmann

Chair                                                                    Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Homeland Security                 Subcommittee on Homeland Security

Committee on Appropriations                             Committee on Appropriations

2006 Rayburn House Office Building                 1016 Longworth House Office Building

United States House of Representatives              United States House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515                                       Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Cole, Chair Lowey and Ranking Member Rogers, and Chair Roybal-Allard and Ranking Member Fleischmann:


As you consider funding for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20), we write to urge you to support U.S. national security, foreign policy, economic, and humanitarian interests by maintaining robust funding for international humanitarian assistance for refugees and other
populations. The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is a longstanding bipartisan humanitarian program that enables the United States to provide lifesaving protection to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Forcibly displaced people lack access to the most
basic necessities of life, including food and nutrition, clean water, safe shelter, healthcare, education, livelihood, and protection from conflict, war, and violence. Beyond these grave humanitarian concerns, the presence of large populations of forcibly
displaced persons is an urgent strategic and security concern for the nations and regions in which they live. U.S. funding helps to ensure that the basic human needs of persons fleeing persecution are met while they are displaced, supports permanent solutions
to their displacement, and supports the countries hosting them. 


Accordingly, we respectfully request that the Committee ensure we can meet the needs of these vulnerable communities by allocating $1.9 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account, $3.672 billion
for the Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account, $51 million for the Department of State’s Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account,  $4.5 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) International
Disaster Assistance (IDA) account, and explore options for enhancing funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Labor, Health, and Human Services and Education:


The Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) account in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) appropriations bill funds the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which helps states and local communities welcome and support refugees and other
vulnerable populations on their path to self-sufficiency. In addition to refugees, ORR also serves increasing numbers of unaccompanied children, asylees, Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients, Cuban and Haitian entrants, victims of human
trafficking, and victims of torture. In particular, there is an increasing need for services for trafficking and torture survivors, yet funding has remained stagnant same for years. We request that Congress allocate
$1.9 billion for the agency to adequately serve all of the populations within its mandate and respond to unanticipated needs.


State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs:


The Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) account funds the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).  This account provides overseas assistance to displaced refugees, supporting refugee admissions, and funding lifesaving services
in humanitarian emergencies.  The crises in Syria and Iraq continue to escalate dramatically, and there are likewise serious humanitarian challenges in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Burma, and Central
American countries.  Therefore, we request $3.672 billion, which will be critical to ensure that PRM can continue to service currently displaced populations while responding to numerous emerging humanitarian crises. 


Escalating violence and instability in many parts of the world have placed increasing demands on the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) account—an emergency draw-down account that provides an important “safety valve” during emergencies.  The
ERMA authorized level has not been increased since the mid-1990s.  We request the Committee fund this account at
$51 million in order to enhance our country’s ability to respond quickly to unanticipated crises, and expeditious, draw-down authority provided to the Secretary of State.


The International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account funds humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons.  Meeting the needs of internally displaced persons is one way to prevent the need for them to flee their countries of origin and become refugees. 
We request that the Committee allocates $4.5 billion in order to meet the needs of growing numbers of persons worldwide who are displaced within their own countries, including those inside Syria and Iraq.


Homeland Security:


The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plays an important role in processing applications for refugees, asylees, and other humanitarian programs. Currently, USCIS is fee-funded by applicants for non-immigrant
visas and other immigration applications.  Thus, USCIS faces the challenge of increased backlogs and delays in the processing of refugee and asylum applications. We urge appropriators to work with USCIS and other agencies involved in the refugee screening
to identify whether additional funds could enhance USCIS’s ability to ensure timely processing of refugee and asylum applications, including the carrying out of security screening


Our first priority is the safety of the American people. We remain deeply committed to safeguarding the public from terrorist attacks, just as we are committed to providing refuge to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. These goals are not mutually
exclusive, and can be pursued in harmony.  That’s why, even as the United States accepts more refugees we do so only after subjecting them to the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States. 


We deeply appreciate your support for these services and your consideration of these requests, as we seek to provide this critical funding to serve and protect some of the world’s most vulnerable people and maintain our legacy as a global humanitarian leader.





Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information: Appropriations, Foreign Affairs, Immigration

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