September 18, 2018

Mayor’s press conference on U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild held a press conference Tuesday regarding the importance of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and the administration’s recent decision to cap refugee admissions at 30,000 annually, the lowest level since 1980.

Currently, there are 68.5 million displaced persons worldwide, 25.4 million of whom are refugees, making this the largest global refugee crisis in recorded history. Refugee service organizations are asking people to call 1-855-472-8930 and leave a message for Judiciary Committee leadership demanding that the cap be raised to 75,000.

The mayor was joined at the press conference by Senada Kadich from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Lorel Donaghey from Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, and Nejra Sumic from We Are All America. The IRC and Lutheran Social Services are two of the three agencies locally that participate in the Refugee Resettlement Program.

Ms. Kadich, a former refugee herself, said that “tens of thousands” of refugees worldwide have been vetted and are ready to resettle in the United States, but will now continue to wait.

Ms. Donaghey agreed, adding that “The refugee community here in Tucson is afraid that their loved ones—husbands, fathers, and children—will never get to join them, or that their chance to become citizens will be taken away, or that they’ll suddenly be deported.”

Ms. Sumic, also a former refugee, told how her father was imprisoned in a concentration camp for his religion. Thankfully, her family was reunited and resettled in the U.S. Within weeks, her parents were employed, and within three years, they became Arizona homeowners. She said she shared her family’s story “to be a representation of the resilience and drive of refugees and to remind everyone that America was built on immigrants and immigrants’ children.”

Mayor Rothschild said, of Tucson’s refugees, “Wherever they come from initially, when they’re here, they’re Tucsonans. The United States can’t solve the global refugee crisis on our own, but we can do a lot more than we’re doing now, particularly since refugees undergo the most intense scrutiny of any group entering the U.S.”

The mayor also congratulated Ms. Kadich, whose son, who also came to the U.S. as a refugee, graduated from the University of Arizona and is pursuing a Master’s Degree at Cambridge University, saying, “You and your son are American success stories, and you’re refugee success stories, too.”

Since January, 2017, 76 out of 340 refugee resettlement offices have closed throughout the country. Refugee resettlement is done by organizations that have been around since World War II and do international humanitarian work.