The “right of asylum” is a concept that long predates the establishment of the United States, and it suggests that a person who is unjustly persecuted by authorities in their own country can and should find refuge within another sovereign nation and should be protected by that nation’s sovereign authority. The concept can be traced through ancient Greek and Hebrew texts and it formed the basis for the medieval idea of “sanctuary”, by which accused criminals could seek refuge within the walls of the church.
In 1980, this concept led to the passage of the United States Refugee Act and the creation of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which lies within the Administration for Children and Families, which in turn lies within the Department of Health and Human Services. Since its establishment, the ORR has provided support for refugees arriving in the US as a result of human trafficking, torture, war, and the separation of children from their refugee families.
Since 1980, about three million refugees have been resettled with help and assistance from the program, establishing a pillar of meaningful action beneath one of the enshrined values of the United States. The number of refugees admitted to the country has fluctuated vastly each year since that time, often in accordance with the political climate and the nature of the party in power, but at this point, the program appears to be in real jeopardy.
We found this short (4:15) segment produced by NPR, which summarizes the impact of the current administration on the state of the Refugee Resettlement Program. Here’s a spoiler: The outlook is troubling, but the factors involved in the efforts to undermine the program are relatively simple, and are focused around an effort to appeal to a republican political base by adopting a stand against all forms of immigration, legal and illegal. We don’t know what the year ahead will bring for the ORR, but we recognize the current pressures placed on the program and are paying attention to their impact.
To learn more about the formation of this program and its potential future, please contact our team.