State and Local Officials From All 50 States Sign Bipartisan Letter Urging Biden Administration to Increase Refugee Admissions

There has never been a more urgent time for states and communities across the country to demonstrate their support for refugees and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, a bipartisan program that has offered safety and homes to refugees the world over since 1980—and will now provide lifesaving protection to certain Afghans at risk due to their support for U.S. operations.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, only 34,400 refugees were resettled globally last year—the lowest number in two decades. Meanwhile, the world faces an acute forced migration crisis, with more than 82.4 million people forcibly displaced worldwide. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 1.47 million refugees need access to resettlement this year.  

Refugees are a vital part of our communities’ fabric. They have invigorated our economies, brought innovation to our towns, and made our communities stronger through their contributions to our public life and cultural institutions. We want to express this support to the President, and hope that he fulfils his pledge to resettle at least 125,000 refugees in the upcoming fiscal year.

 The sign on letter is now closed.  Please reach out to outreach@refugeeadvocacylab.org with any questions.

 

———— TEXT OF LETTER ——————————–

President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As leaders in our communities, elected at all levels of state and local government, we write today to express our strong support for protecting and resettling refugees in our states and communities. We call on your Administration to prioritize restoring our nation’s refugee resettlement infrastructure as quickly as possible and to fulfill your pledge to admit 125,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 2022. 

Refugee resettlement is not only a lifeline for refugees, but it also revitalizes our communities—strengthening our economies and civic institutions. We urge you to consider the voices of communities across the country as we join together in support of this life-saving and life-giving program. Preserving and enhancing refugee resettlement is key to effectively and humanely responding to emergency refugee situations. An immediate and urgent example is the recent announcement by your Administration of a new mechanism for refugee protection for certain Afghans, whose lives are at risk as the United States withdraws from Afghanistan. Having the requisite resources at the ready is necessary for these very moments.

The international community faces a forced migration crisis of historic proportions that requires bold leadership, innovative solutions, and all countries to do their fair share. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that over 82.4 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 26.4 million of whom are registered as refugees. More than half of those registered are children. For a small minority facing specific risks, staying in their initial host country is not an option, making resettlement necessary. The UNHCR estimates that 1.47 million refugees need access to resettlement this year. Despite this, only a tiny fraction is afforded this chance. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this crisis, as many refugees awaiting resettlement are left in limbo due to travel restrictions and abrupt flight cancellations. As a result, only 34,400 refugees were resettled globally last year—the lowest number in two decades. Moreover, while we applaud increasing this year’s refugee admissions goal to 65,200, we are disappointingly on pace to reach only a fraction of that number. As international travel resumes and health checks are implemented, we hope resettlement is accelerated in this time of great need, and that public health and protecting refugees are not treated as mutually exclusive.

On this 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, we have a chance to affirm our commitments to the world and to this nation by welcoming 125,000 refugees into our communities. As elected leaders, we continually hear from our constituents that they support the resettlement of refugees. From greeting refugee families at the airport to assisting with English language classes or navigating bus lines  – our communities stand for welcome. They know that refugees are men, women, and children who were forced to flee in order to save their lives and are now looking for a place to be safe and call home again. 

Refugees bring immense value to our communities. They invigorate our economies, bring innovation to our towns, and make our public and cultural institutions richer. Refugees are students, business owners, dedicated employees, customers, elected officials, and community leaders. In every way, they embody what it means to be an American.

Refugees and their families bring so much to our communities, and we are better and stronger because of them. As state and local elected officials, we encourage you to restore our nation’s standing as a leader in welcoming refugees by fulfilling your promise to resettle 125,000 refugees in the coming year.

We hope that you will take into account our strong desire to welcome refugees as you make your determination.

Sincerely,

Alabama
Neil Rafferty, State Representative, Birmingham

Alaska
Elvi Gray-Jackson, State Senator, Anchorage

Arizona
Ylenia Aguilar, School Board Member, Phoenix
Richard Andrade, State Representative, Phoenix
Andrés Cano, State Representative, Tucson
Sophia Carrillo Dahl, School Board Member, Phoenix
Andrea Dalessandro, State Representative, Tucson
Rosanna Gabaldon, State Senator, Sahuarita
Carlos Garcia, Vice Mayor, Phoenix
Betty Guardado, City Councilwoman, Phoenix
Lauren Kuby, Councilmember, Tempe
Stanford Prescott, Governing Board Member, Phoenix Union High School District, Phoenix
Martin Quezada, State Senator, Phoenix
Athena Salman, State Representative, Tempe
Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, State Representative, Tucson
Raquel Teran, State Representative, Phoenix

Arkansas
Lioneld Jordan, Mayor, Fayetteville
Holly Hertzberg, Councilmember, Fayetteville
Teresa Turk, Councilmember, Fayetteville

California

John Bauters, City Council Member, Emeryville
Marc Berman, Assemblymember, Menlo Park
Tygarjas Bigstyck, City Council Member, Pacifica
Bob Blumenfield, Los Angeles City Councilmember, Los Angeles
John Erickson, Councilmember, West Hollywood
Jesse Gabriel, Assemblymember, Encino
Farrah Khan, Mayor, Irvine
Libby Schaaf, Mayor, Oakland
Sepi Shyne, Councilmember, West Hollywood
Henry Stern, State Senator, Calabasas
Connor Traut, Mayor, Buena Park
Christopher Ward, Assemblymember, San Diego
Scott Wiener, State Senator, San Francisco

Colorado
Governor Jared Polis
Yadira Caraveo, State Representative, Thornton
John Clark, Mayor, Ridgway
Todd Cohen, Councilmember, Broomfield
Hannah Gay Keao, City Councilwoman, Edgewater
Stacie Gilmore, Denver City Council President, Denver
Julie Gonzales, State Senator, Denver
Michael Hancock, Mayor, Denver
Iman Jodeh, Assemblymember, Aurora
Laura Keegan, Mayor, Edgewater
John Kefalas, County Commissioner, Fort Collins
Chris Kennedy, State Representative, Lakewood
Robin Kniech, City Councilmember, Denver
Naquetta Ricks, State Representative, Aurora
Sam Weaver, Mayor, Boulder

Connecticut
Luke A. Bronin, Mayor, Hartford
Edwin Vargas, State Representative, Hartford

Delaware
Paul Baumbach, State Representative, Newark

District of Columbia
Brianne K. Nadeau, Councilmember, Washington 

Florida
Trish Becker, Special District Mosquito County Commissioner, St. Augustine
Buddy Dyer, Mayor, Orlando
Anna Eskamani, State Representative, Orlando
Dotie Joseph, State Representative, North Miami
Sarah Leonardi, School Board Member, Pompano Beach
Carlos G. Smith, State Representative, Orlando

Georgia

Becky Evans, State Representative, Atlanta
Anthony Ford, Mayor, Stockbridge
Kim Jackson, State Senator, Stone Mountain
Angelika Kausche, State Representative, Johns Creek

Hawaii
Stanley Chang, State Senator, Honolulu
Tina Wildberger, State Representative, Kihei

Idaho
Sue Chew, State Representative, Boise
Chris Mathias, State Representative, Boise
Lauren McLean, Mayor, Boise
Colin Nash State Representative Boise
Lauren Necochea State Representative Boise
Melissa Wintrow, State Senator, Boise

Illinois
Scott Britton, County Commissioner, Cook County
Kelly Cassidy, State Representative, Chicago
Mimi Cowan, County Commissioner, Naperville, Will County
Michael Crowner, Township Supervisor, Wheatland Township
Daniel Didech, State Representative, Buffalo Grove
Laura Fine, State Senator, Glenview
Will Guzzardi, State Representative, Chicago
Maria Hadden, Alderwoman, Chicago
Ian Holzhauer, Councilman, Naperville
Daniel La Spata, Alderperson, Chicago
Lori E. Lightfoot, Mayor, Chicago
Meta Mueller, County Commissioner, Aurora, Will County
Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Alderperson, Chicago
Jacqueline Traynere, County Commissioner, Bolingbrook, Will County
Andre Vasquez, Alderman, 40th Ward, Chicago
Rachel Ventura, County Commissioner, Joliet, Will County

Indiana

Zach Adamson, Vice President, City County Council, Indianapolis
Lori Hamann, South Bend Common Council member at large, South Bend
John Hamilton, Mayor, Bloomington

Iowa
Stacy Walker, County Commissioner, Cedar Rapids, Linn County

Kansas
John Doll, State Senator, Garden City
Mary Ware, State Senator, Wichita

Kentucky
Josie Raymond, State Representative, Louisville
Susan Westrom, State Representative, Lexington

Louisiana
Karen Peterson, State Senator, New Orleans

Maine

Pious Ali, At-Large City Councilor, Portland
Kristen Cloutier, State Representative, Lewiston
Denise Tepler, State Representative, Topsham

Maryland
Jim Boyes, Town Councilman, Westfield
Colin Byrd, Mayor, City of Greenbelt
Lorig Charkoudian, Delegate, Takoma Park
Cindy Dyballa, City Councilmember, Takoma Park
Brian J. Feldman, State Senator, District 15, Montgomery County
Jessica Feldmark, Delegate, District 12, Howard and Baltimore Counties
Evan Glass, County Councilmember At-Large, Montgomery County
Tom Hucker, County Council President, Silver Spring
Anne Kaiser, Delegate, Silver Spring
Kacy Kostiuk, City Councilmember, Takoma Park
David Moon, Delegate, Silver Spring
Julie Palakovich Carr, Delegate, Rockville
Sheila Ruth, Delegate, Catonsville
Emily Shetty, Delegate, Annapolis
Kate Stewart, Mayor, Takoma Park
Vaughn Stewart, Delegate, District 19, Montgomery County
Jeff Waldstreicher, State Senator, Kensington
Patrick Wojahn, Mayor, College Park

Massachusetts
Terri Ackerman, Chair, Select Board, Concord
Katjana Ballantyne, City Councilor, Somerville
Ruth B. Balser, State Representative, Newton
Christine Barber, State Representative, Somerville
Fred Baron, Selectboard, Whately
Zac Bears, City Councilor, Medford
Kenzie Bok, Boston City Councilor, Boston
Andrea Campbell, Boston City Councilor, District 4, Boston
Linda Campbell, State Representative, Methuen
Harriette Chandler, State Senator, Boston
Sonia Chang-Díaz, State Senator, Boston
Jonathan Chines, Town Councilor, Wakefield
Michelle Ciccolo, State Representative, Lexington
Jesse Clingan, City Councilor, Somerville
Jo Comerford, State Senator, Northampton
Mike Connolly, State Representative, Cambridge
Marcos Devers, State Representative, Lawrence
Jamie Eldridge, State Senator, Boston
Dylan Fernandes, State Representative, Falmouth
Raul Fernandez, Select Board Vice Chair, Brookline
Barry Finegold, State Senator, Andover
Sean Garballey, State Representative, Arlington
Carmine Lawrence Gentile, State Representative, Sudbury
Adam Gomez, State Senator, Springfield
Dr. Tami Gouveia, State Representative, Acton
Natalie Higgins, State Representative, Leominster
Vanna Howard, State Representative, Lowell
Kim Janey, Mayor, Boston
John F. Keenan, State Senator, Quincy
Kay Khan, State Representative, Newton
David LeBoeuf, State Representative, Worcester
Jack P. Lewis, State Representative, Framingham
Liz Malia, State Representative, Boston
Christina Minicucci, State Representative, North Andover
Liz Miranda, State Representative, Boston
Nicole Morell, City Councilor, Medford
Steven Owens, State Representative, Watertown
Alice Peisch, State Representative, Wellesley
Tram T. Nguyen, State Representative, Andover
Lindsay Sabadosa, State Representative, Northampton
Danillo Sena, State Representative, Acton
Julie Smith-Galvin, Town Councilor, Wakefield
Adam Steiner, City Councilor, Framingham
Cesar Stewart-Morales, Framingham City Councilor, District 2, Framingham
Jeffrey Thielman, School Committee Member, Arlington
Steve Ultrino, State Representative, Malden
Erika Uyterhoeven, State Representative, Somerville

Michigan

Adam Hollier, State Senator, District 2, Wayne County
Sheldon Neeley, Mayor, Flint
Emily Rohrbach, City Councilor, Madison Heights
Monica Sparks, County Commissioner, Kent
Doug Zylstra, County Commissioner, Holland

Minnesota
Sandra Feist, State Representative, New Brighton
John Marty, State Senator, Roseville

Mississippi
Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor, Jackson

Missouri
Teresa Loar, City Councilmember, Kansas City

Montana

Kenneth Bogner, State Senator, Miles City
Kathy Kelker, State Representative, Billings
Connie Keogh, State Representative, Missoula

Nebraska
Megan Hunt, State Senator, Lincoln
Christa Yoakum, County Commissioner, Lincoln, Lancaster County

Nevada

Natha Anderson, Assemblymember, Sparks 
Fabian Doñate, State Senator, Las Vegas
Edgar Flores, Assemblymember, Las Vegas
Devon T. Reese, City Councilmember, At-Large, Reno
Howard Watts, Assemblymember, Las Vegas

New Hampshire
Safiya Wazir, State Representative, Concord

New Jersey
Nancy Adams, Township Committeewoman, Maplewood
Gayle Brill Mittler, Mayor, Borough of Highland Park
Victor De Luca, Township Committee Member, Maplewood
Mark Freda, Mayor, Princeton
Devra Keenan, Mayor, Montgomery Township

New Mexico
Karen Bash, State Representative, Albuquerque
Bill Tallman, State Senator, Albuquerque
Renee Villarreal, City Councilwoman, Santa Fe

New York
Bill de Blasio, Mayor, New York City
Byron W. Brown, Mayor, Buffalo
Brad Hoylman, State Senator, New York City
Timothy Kennedy, State Senator, Buffalo
Liz Krueger, State Senator, New York
Carlina Rivera, New York City Council Member, New York City
Jo Anne Simon, Assemblymember, Brooklyn
Jimmy Van Bramer, City Council Member, New York City
Steven Weinberg, Mayor, Great Neck

North Carolina
Natalie Beyer, School Board Member, Durham
Heidi Carter, County Commissioner, Durham
Pam Hemminger, Mayor, Chapel Hill
Sharon Hightower, Councilwoman, Greensboro
Lydia Lavelle, Mayor, Carrboro
Susan Romaine, Council Member, Carrboro
Stephen M. Schewel, Mayor, Durham
Damon Seils, Council Member, Carrboro
Jennifer (Jenn) Weaver, Mayor, Hillsborough

North Dakota
Tim Mathern, State Senator, Fargo

Ohio

Elizabeth Brown, President Pro Tempore, Columbus City Council, Columbus
David Donofrio, Board of Education Member, Grove City
Matt Joseph, City Commissioner, Dayton
Greg Landsman, Member of City Council, Cincinnati
Dale Miller, County Councilperson, Cleveland

Oklahoma
José Cruz, State Representative, Oklahoma City
Carri Hicks, State Senator, Oklahoma City
Cyndi Munson, State Representative, Oklahoma City
Jacob Rosecrants, State Representative, Norman
Emily Virgin, State Representative, Norman
Collin Walke, State Representative, Oklahoma City

Oregon

Nadia Hasan, City Councilor, Beaverton,
Zach Hudson, State Representative, Troutdale
Melanie Kebler, City Councilor, Bend
Mingus Mapps, Commissioner, Portland
Sharon Meieran, County Commissioner, Portland
Khanh Pham, State Representative, Portland
Rita Schenkelberg, City Councilor, Bend
Cayle Tern, Reynolds School Board Director, Portland
Lori Stegmann, County Commissioner, Portland
Jessica Vega Pederson, County Commissioner, Portland
Marty Wilde, State Representative, Eugene

Pennsylvania
Dan Frankel, State Representative, Pittsburgh
Helen Gym, City Councilmember At-Large, Philadelphia
William Peduto, Mayor, Pittsburgh
Mike Schlossberg, State Representative, Allentown
Judith Schwank, State Senator, Reading
Danene Sorace, Mayor, Lancaster
Mark Squilla, Councilmember, Philadelphia
Erika Strassburger, City Council Member, Pittsburgh

Rhode Island
Katherine Kerwin, City Councilor, Providence

South Carolina
Neal Collins, State Representative, Easley

South Dakota

Reynold Nesiba, State Senator, Sioux Falls

Tennessee
Heidi Campbell, State Senator, Nashville
John Ray Clemmons, State Representative, Nashville
John Cooper, Mayor, Nashville
Tim Kelly, Mayor, Chattanooga
Bob Mendes, Nashville Metro Council, At-Large Member, Nashville
Amelia Parker, City Councilwoman, Knoxville
John Rutherford, Councilman, Nashville
Jim Shulman, Vice Mayor, Nashville
Seema Singh, Councilmember, Knoxville
Colby Sledge, Councilmember, Nashville
Nancy VanReece, Metropolitan Councilmember, Nashville
Brett Withers, County Commissioner, Nashville, Davidson County

Texas
Gregorio (Greg) Casar, City Council Member, Austin
Vanessa Fuentes, City Councilwoman, District 2, Austin
Natasha Harper-Madison, Mayor Pro-Tem, Austin

Utah
Gay Lynn Bennion, State Representative, Cottonwood Heights
Natalie Gordon, City Councilor, North Salt Lake
Jani Iwamoto, State Senator, Salt Lake City
Dan Johnson, State Representative, Logan
Marsha Judkins, State Representative, Provo
Brian King, State Representative, Salt Lake City
Rosemary Lesser, State Representative, Ogden
Raymond Ward, State Representative, Bountiful
Mark Wheatley, State Representative, Salt Lake City

Vermont
Sarah Copeland Hanzas, State Representative, Bradford
Ann Pugh, State Representative, South Burlington
Marybeth Redmond, State Representative, Essex
Michael Yantachka, State Representative, Charlotte

Virginia
Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Vice Mayor, Alexandria
Heather Hill, City Councilor, Charlottesville
Takis Karantonis, Member, Arlington County Board, Arlington
Sena Magill, Vice Mayor, Charlottesville
McKinley Price, DDS, Mayor, Newport News
Lloyd Snook, City Councilor, Charlottesville

Washington
Sofia Aragon, Councilmember, City of Burien Burien
Claudia Balducci, Councilmember, Bellevue
Jen Carter, Commissioner, Public Hospital District, Snoqualmie
Dow Constantine, King County Executive, Seattle
Mona Das, State Senator, Kent
Joe Fitzgibbon, State Representative, Seattle
Jessica Forsythe, Councilmember, Redmond
Doris Fujioka McConnell, Councilmember, Shoreline
Lisa Herbold, City Councilmember, Seattle
Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilmember, Seattle
Liz Lovelett, State Senator, Anacortes
Jamie Pedersen, State Senator, Seattle
Chris Roberts, Councilmember, Shoreline
Cindy Ryu, State Representative, Shoreline
Derek Stanford, State Senator, Bothell
Sharon Tomiko Santos, State Representative, Seattle
Javier Valdez, State Representative, Seattle
Girmay Zahilay, Councilmember, Seattle

West Virginia
Kayla Young, Delegate, 35th District

Wisconsin
Jonathan Brostoff, State Representative, Madison
Ryan Clancy, County Supervisor, Milwaukee
Holly Hatcher, Dane County Supervisor, Middleton
Francesca Hong, State Representative, Madison
Alex Joers, County Supervisor, Middleton
Michael Verveer, Alderperson, Madison

Wyoming
Mike Yin, State Representative, Jackson