Sending Office: Honorable Ilhan Omar
Current Signers: Espaillat, Carolyn Maloney, Grijalva, Barbara Lee, Quigley, Pressley
Endorsing Organizations: Church World Service, OCA
I invite you to join me in sending the below letter to House leadership making recommendations for common sense measures to ensure the protection of refugees, asylees, and other immigrants in the fourth package of COVID-19 legislation.
While the CARES Act included much-needed funding for PRM, there is still important work that needs to be done to guarantee that newly-arrived refugees are still able to receive the direct assistance they rely on. My letter also acknowledges some of the logistical
difficulties that refugees, asylum applicants, and other immigrants are encountering during this crisis, and suggests simple measures to address them. For example, validity periods for visas and security checks should be extended to account for COVID-related
I know there are innumerable concerns during this crisis, but I encourage you to join me in ensuring that our newest neighbors are cared for and their concerns taken into account as we move forward with our legislative response.
To sign on, or for any questions, please contact Ryan Morgan in my office (email@example.com) by Tuesday, April 14 COB.
Member of Congress
April xx, 2020
Dear Speaker Pelosi and Ranking Member McCarthy:
We write to request that the next emergency legislative package related to COVID-19 include protections for refugees, asylees, and other immigrants in order ensure that the needs of our newest neighbors are met during this time of crisis.
Firstly, we request $642 million in Refugee and Entrant Assistance (REA) funds for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) for resettlement services. This funding is critical to ensuring that recent refugee and special immigrant arrivals receive direct
assistance, such as cash and medical assistance, housing/rent, utilities, transportation, food, and health needs unavailable through normally operating public channels. And given that recently-arrived refugees are unable to receive the cash rebate as part
of the CARES Act, we request a technical fix that clarifies that all refugees, including those who were admitted during calendar years 2019 and 2020 should be treated as “resident aliens” and eligible for the direct cash rebate and thus eligible.
Additionally, in order to ensure that ORR implements the funding in good faith and in the interest of public health, we request that Congress direct ORR to increase refugee cash and medical assistance to eighteen months, increase the Matching Grant per capita
by $2,000, expand the Preferred Communities program threefold, and ensure that resettlement agencies are able to maintain their infrastructure and capacity at a level to continue to serve newly arrived refugees, previously arrived refugees, and other populations
of concern who remain statutorily eligible for integration services, and to ensure that there is capacity for future arrivals to be adequately served.
We would also like to see report language and guidance that accounts for:
- Floor funding to resettlement agencies to maintain the resettlement infrastructure;
- The need to continue facilitating unaccompanied refugee minor admissions wherever possible;
- The need to extend validity periods for visas and security checks;
- The need to extend the authorization dates of recently-expired travel documents;
- The need to extend application deadlines.
Refugees, special immigrants, and immigrant visa applicants are important members of American communities. Refugees are the most vetted travelers to the United States and face rigorous security checks that take years to complete. Further, immigrants often
wait for years and go to great lengths and expense to obtain visas to enter the United States. Afghan SIVs in particular have been persecuted for their faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government. Now is the time to ensure that we do not turn our
backs on those we promised to welcome.
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0