Press Conference Held by Senator Jack Reed at Aleppo Sweets
“Rhode Island’s senior senator visits Aleppo Sweets in Providence in response to a recent announcement by the Trump Administration that it plans to lower the number of refugees the United States would accept next fiscal year to 18,000, the lowest number since 1980.” — The Providence Journal
We were happy to gather at Aleppo Sweets on October 1, 2019, in solidarity with Senator Jack Reed in his objection to the Administration's proposed plan to drastically decrease the 2020 Presidential Determination for the refugee cap.
“This is a new low for the Trump Administration. We don’t need to turn our backs on suffering people in order to keep our country safe. On the contrary, showing compassion, providing humanitarian assistance, and demonstrating America’s values by resettling refugees strengthens our nation. Refugees contribute to our communities in so many ways.” — Senator Reed
Earlier this year, Dorcas International was one of 172 local, state, and national organizations that sent a joint letter to Secretaries Pompeo, Azar, McAleenan, and Esper to express our opposition to decreasing this number and to urge for “the United States to continue to be a beacon of hope and freedom for all people fleeing displacement and persecution by setting a minimum Presidential Determination (PD) of 95,000.”
We are devastated to see that the Administration's number is not even remotely close to this.
In Fiscal Year 2019, Dorcas International’s refugee and case management team helped 970 people from 60 different countries. And, as the only agency in Rhode Island that is authorized by the U.S. Department of State to resettle refugees arriving in the U.S., we resettled 96 newly arrived refugees from Congo, Ukraine, Syria, Rwanda, and Burundi.
We help individuals and families every year — families life Youssef Akhtarini’s (pictured above), who lost everything and were exposed to extreme violence before fleeing their home country as refugees. Now, Youssef and his family live here in Providence, Rhode Island, and run a successful bakery that has become a local favorite, for its delicious baklava and Syrian cuisine, and a nationally recognized eatery. (To read more about Youssef’s story, visit our website)
We believe strongly in supporting refugees, like Youssef, and welcoming all newcomers. Those who resettle in the U.S. as refugees or asylees have often times experienced significant trauma and were forced to leave their home countries due to a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Those applying for Refugee status and resettlement go through a rigorous vetting and interviewing process that starts with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) — with the most vulnerable cases being referred to the US Refugee Assistance Program — and is mandatory before they are approved for resettlement. The overall processing time could take years, sometimes as long as two decades, before a refugee is approved for resettlement to the U.S.
Resettling here in Rhode Island or in the nation is an opportunity for a refugee or asylum seeker to rebuild their lives in a safe and secure environment. “The United Nations estimates that over one million refugees are in immediate need of resettlement around the world,” and we, as a nation, have the ability to help at least a fraction of these individuals. We have the ability to change their lives.
“The Trump Administration is proposing to cut a lifeline for some of the world’s most vulnerable people in a way that is cruel, inhumane, and irresponsible, and won’t keep Americans safe.” — Senator Reed
We agree with you Senator Reed — 18,000 is not enough.