Markey, Kennedy participate at immigration roundtable
Focus on Trump administration’s cap on refugee admissions
SEN. ED MARKEY and US Rep. Joe Kennedy III made a joint appearance on Tuesday at an immigration roundtable event focused on the Trump administration’s decision to cap refugee admissions at a record-low level of 18,000 for the coming fiscal year.
Markey and Kennedy, two of the four candidates running for the US Senate, mentioned the immigrant backgrounds of their families and pledged to work for an increase in refugee admissions. Kennedy said he wanted to change the politics of immigration and Markey touted legislation he has filed that would increase immigration levels to 95,000 a year.
The new cap is 40 percent below the 30,000 allowed in the 2019 fiscal year. The US has accepted a yearly average of 95,000 refugees since the resettlement program began in 1980.
The roundtable was hosted by Oxfam America and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. Last year, 421 refugees were resettled in Massachusetts, down from 2,400 in 2014.
He resettled in Lynn in February, leaving behind his wife, a daughter, and a son who was born after he left. Nahimana said he works full-time at a Starbucks, pays rent, takes English classes, and sends $500 a month home to Turkey to keep his family afloat.
The lower cap on refugee admissions means it will be difficult to bring his son and daughter to the United States. “When I heard they were decreasing the number of refugees, I thought, there’s no hope. My son needs me, and my daughter needs me. They deserve to have a father around,” he said.
As a result of the changing refugee cap, resettlement agencies will receive far less money to assist with services because their budgets are based largely on the number of new refugees they serve.
“It is not the time to cut the resettlement infrastructure. It’s the time to increase it,” Markey said.
Kennedy is concerned about how cuts would not just impact the resettlement agencies, but also how overarching Trump administration asylum and refugee policy changes will impact immigrants’ abilities to find work in the US.“The administration is making it harder for them to get into the country and when they’re here, harder to provide for their families. They are squeezing immigrant families any way they can,” he said in a phone interview after the event.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services last week also announced a new process to allow states and localities to block resettlement of refugees in their communities. The new process codifies a process that has been ad hoc before. For example, 31 governors have already barred Syrian refugees from resettling in their states.