Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NumbersUSA - Obama calls for 30% increase in refugee program


This Issue: NumbersUSA activists flood Congress as it considers Obama's refugee proposal and H-2Bs in upcoming spending bills

Fri, Sep 16th
NumbersUSA activists have sent 109,952 faxes this week (as of this writing) and made thousands of phone calls as Congress considers some pressing issues before a long pre-election recess. Thank you for making sure your voice was heard all week long!
The House calendar shows that both the House and Senate will be in session through the last week of September (although one, or both, may recess before that). Topping the agenda is funding the government beyond September 30, which is when last December's omnibus spending bill runs out
A couple immigration items could be affected in a short-term spending bill.
Our Capitol Hill Team is hearing that Congress will pass a Continuing Resolution (short-term spending bill) through early- to mid-December. It will have to consider Pres. Obama's demand to increase the refugee resettlement program and the expansion of the H-2B visa program that is set to expire at the end of September.
Earlier this week, Pres. Obama demanded that Congress increase the current refugee flow from 85,000 to 110,000 in FY2017. That is a 57% increase over FY2015 levels. (Please see Eric's blog for more details.)
From 2005-2014, the United States permanently resettled an average of 55,700 refugees per year.
On Thursday, 41 non-governmental organizations
(NGO), who profit from the refugee resettlement program, delivered thousands of postcards to Members of Congress, pushing for an expansion of the refugee resettlement program. They also pressured the White House to increase levels to a combined 200,000 refugees and asylees through both the resettlement program and other humanitarian efforts.
As we've noted in the past, the Center for Immigration Studies has determined that, for the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States through those NGO agencies, we can provide food, shelter, and medical care for 12 refugees in internationally-run safe zones in their home regions.
The House Appropriations Committee has already passed spending bills that include funding of the refugee resettlement program in FY2017, and the Committee's report indicates that funding has been set at the FY2015 level of 70,000 per year.
We expect Congress to address funding Pres. Obama's demands in December, but we've still been asking for faxes and phone calls this week, urging Congress to include a moratorium in the CR on refugees from terrorist-sponsoring countries until the risks to national security can be assessed. FBI Director James Comey warned Congress last year that refugees from terrorist-sponsoring countries could not be fully vetted.
The H-2B visa program allows for up to 66,000 visas for foreign workers to work jobs that are temporary or seasonal in nature. A provision included in last year's omnibus bill excluded foreign workers who had held an H-2B visa in any of the prior three years from the annual cap.
NumbersUSA opposed the provision since it theoretically could increase the annual number of visas given to foreign workers from 66,000 to 264,000. The program is extremely harmful to low-skilled American workers who have significantly higher unemployment levels than the national average and depend on temporary and seasonal jobs.
Since the expansion expires on September 30, Congress would have to include a provision to extend the date in the upcoming CR. However, as I noted, Congress approved the FY16 expansion last December, so even if we're able to keep it out of the CR, the expansion issue could still come up later this year.
Again, we've been asking activists to make phone calls and send faxes urging Congress to oppose any efforts to expand the H-2B visa program in the FY17 spending bills.
As I mentioned, Congress must take action before the end of the month, so we'll continue to follow all of these issues in the coming weeks. Please be on the lookout for action alerts, urging you to contact your Members of Congress next week. In the meantime, if you've yet to send the faxes we posted this week on these issues, please visit your Action Board today and take action!

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