Stand With The International Institute of St. Louis
Against Proposed Cuts to Refugee Admissions
We the undersigned believe that St. Louis and all of its residents are stronger if we value our differences and act inclusively. In this case, it means standing up for refugees. They have historically been welcomed to our region and are integral to its vibrancy and growth in myriad ways. Refugees comprise a significant portion of the annual foreign born population growth our region seeks to prosper.
We are gravely concerned about the future of refugee resettlement in St. Louis and around the U.S. On September 26, the Trump Administration submitted a proposal to Congress to slash the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program by 40% to 18,000 admissions for 2020. A drop to 18,000 would reflect a total admissions cut of 88% over three years.
In St. Louis, we have experienced the results of the aforementioned cuts. In 2016, the International Institute sponsored 1,158 refugees. In the past year, the total has decreased to approximately 200 annually, a shocking number when many thousands of refugees have been resettled since 1975. Today, our neighbors include former refugees from Bosnia, Ethiopia, Nepal, Syria, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Cuba, Vietnam, and dozens of other countries. They are now home owners, successful entrepreneurs, and along with their children have become essential to the very fiber of our community.
History shows that the U.S. has benefited at least as much from refugees’ contributions as the refugees have from this nation’s generosity. In 2017, the St. Louis Regional Chamber estimated the total regional output impact exceeded $250 million for the International Institute’s job placement services for refugees. And, refugees can be a boost to many economies since they are often resettled in areas with low immigration otherwise and where population has been declining. Refugees provide a region with new population, raise the tax base and enrich the cultural landscape in the process. They are indisputably a net economic plus.
Economics aside, refugees also personify values which Americans extoll — courage, resiliency, and tenacity. They come to the U.S. to get on with meaningful lives in a secure setting, not to receive a handout. In this sense, their journey mirrors that of countless Americans and their ancestors. In welcoming refugees, we reinforce the best aspects of our nation’s heritage.
To slam the door on persecuted people while the number of refugees displaced globally continues to rise to historic levels upends decades of bipartisan tradition. It also abandons thousands of families in need of resettlement, leaving them in precarious, often life-threatening situations. Refugee resettlement assures that at least some of those forced to flee their homes in countries around the world have a safe and legal pathway to refuge in the U.S.
We oppose the Trump Administration’s proposal to drastically cut refugee admissions, because it condemns so many more to needless suffering. There are presently a record 26 million refugees around the world. The U.S. has traditionally filled a unique role in helping to protect these vulnerable people, through overseas financial support and resettlement of approximately 70,000 annually who have been vetted through the world’s most stringent refugee security assessment.
We urge our leaders to return to a more robust refugee admissions level. The resettlement program is a crucial element of our nation’s humanitarian, foreign policy and national security strategies and reflects American history and values.
Finally, we support a fair and balanced admissions approach that addresses the needs of refugees from overseas in addition to asylee applicants at our Southern border. The U.S. has the capacity to continue to operate robust well-vetted refugee and asylee admissions programs at the same time.
The following elected officials, organizations, and individuals are standing with the International Institute:
Christine Ingrassia, 6th Ward Alderwoman, City of St. Louis
Tishaura O. Jones, Treasurer, City of St. Louis
Lyda Krewson, Mayor, City of St. Louis
Tracy McCreery, Missouri State Representative, District 88
Bret Narayan, 24th Ward Alderman, City of St. Louis
Annie Rice, 8th Ward Alderwoman, City of St. Louis
Jill Schupp, Missouri State Senator, District 24
Anti-Defamation League Heartland (ADL Heartland)
Argos Capital Partners, LLC
Bend the Arc, St. Louis
Bilingual International Assistant Services (BIAS)
Bosnia Memory Project
Bread and Roses – Missouri
Casa de Salud
Catholic Charities of St. Louis
City of St. Louis Department of Health
Clark-Fox Family Foundation
Club Atletico Saint Louis NPSL
Community Builders Network of Metro St. Louis
Community Development Ventures, Inc.
Congregation Shaare Emeth
Construction Forum STL
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MO)
Criminal Justice Ministry
Daughters of Charity Province of St. Louis
DAY ONE Documentary
EarthDance Organic Farm School
Education, Advocacy, Representation & Leadership for Youth (EARLY)
Eliot Unitarian Chapel
Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion
Episcopal Diocese of Missouri
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis
Hispanic Leaders Group of Greater St. Louis
Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Program
Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis, Inc.
Japanese American Citizens League – St. Louis Chapter
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Law Office of Patavee Vanadilok, P.C.
Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis
Missouri Historical Society
Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA)
Nahed Chapman New American Academy
National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Places for People, Inc.
Restoration St. Louis, Inc.
Revival School Saint Louis
Saint Louis Mental Health Board
Sodexo – SSM Health
St. Francis Community Services
St. Louis Bosnians, Inc.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher Soccer Club & Saint Louis FC
St. Louis Mosaic Project
St. Louis New American Alliance
St. Louis Regional Chamber
TAO + LEE Associates, Inc.
The Collective Thread
The Ethics Project
The Gateway Welcome Project
The Immigration Task Force of the Archdiocese of St. Louis
The Yield Lab
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co.
Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice
World Trade Center St. Louis
Mike Angell, Rector, Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion
Sister Carol Boschert
Tom Burroughs, Dean and Professor, Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice
Greg A. Campbell, Esq., Partner, Hammond & Shinners, P.C.
James P. Crane, M.D., Retired CEO, Washington University Physicians & Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, Washington University School of Medicine
Carmen Sofia Dence
Lisa M. Dorner, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Missouri
Yinka Faleti, candidate for Missouri Secretary of State
Kent and Deborah Hirschfelder
Warren and Sharon Hoffmann
Mark and Mary Anne Koines
Janet G. Lowe
Kathleen Potts, RN
Emily Rauh Pulitzer
Bonita E. Samuelson
Heather P. Silverman
George Wayne Smith, Bishop of Missouri, Episcopal Diocese of Missouri
Karen Tokarz, Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law Director, Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program, Washington University School of Law
Adriano Udani, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and Director, Public Policy Administration Program, University of Missouri – St. Louis
Marie and Michael Wiese