The Trump administration's cap of 30,000 refugees to be admitted to the United States for fiscal year 2019 will leave thousands more "in harm's way," said Bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, Texas, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration.
He said the bishops were saddened by the low number but pledged to work with the administration to reach that goal while they continue to call for a higher number of refugees to be admitted during the next fiscal year.
A "Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions" was issued Oct. 4 as a memorandum to the U.S. State Department confirming the number of 30,000, which was first announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Sept. 17. The figure is one-third less than last year's 45,000, which had been the lowest number on record.
"As Christians, we believe it is our duty to welcome and help those who are persecuted, including the vulnerable such as children and religious minorities," Bishop Vasquez said in an Oct. 6 statement. "Resettlement in our country is a way through which we live out our Gospel call to welcome the persecuted into our communities -- individuals and families with no viable options to stay where they are or return home."
He said he was "saddened" by the major reduction in resettlement to 30,000 refugees.
"I worry and pray for those refugees left in harm's way by this decision," Bishop Vasquez said. "We urge the administration to diligently work to reach this year's 'Presidential Determination' as we know that many in the world fleeing war, persecution and religious discrimination continue to desperately need our support.
"We pledge to work with the administration to ensure that we reach that goal. We will continue to call for a higher refugee admissions level for next year. We can and must do more to assist those in need."
President Donald Trump's memo to the State Department spelled out how the refugee admissions would be allocated: Africa, 11,000; Near East/South Asia, 9,000; East Asia, 4,000; Europe and Central Asia, 3,000; and Latin America/Caribbean, 3,000.