Dubuque City Council/Mayor Pens Letter To Receive Refugees: UPDATE 8/17
The Dubuque Mayor has clarified the purpose of the Refugee Resettlement Letter that was sent to President Biden. According to a press release from the City of Dubuque and the Mayor's Office. The Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce advocated for the letter, which it viewed as an important way to bring and welcome people to the country as businesses face a workforce shortage. See below:
As part of the Monday, August 15th, Dubuque City Council meeting, the council approved Mayor Brad Cavanagh’s request to submit a letter to President Biden expressing support for protecting and resettling refugees in the United States.
The letter made no reference to specific locations for refugee resettlement, nor did it request refugees be resettled in Dubuque or Iowa, but instead called for the federal government to meet its commitment to resettle refugees in Fiscal Year 2023 and to prioritize restoring our nation’s refugee resettlement infrastructure.
Following inaccurate reports from some media and related social media posts, some have suggested this letter is specifically focused on resettlement in Dubuque. This is inaccurate. The letter called for protecting and resettling refugees in the United States. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a refugee is a person who has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
The Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce advocated for the letter, which it viewed as an important way to bring and welcome people to the country as businesses face a workforce shortage.
“I’m disappointed that this letter has been inaccurately reported as something it is not,” said Mayor Cavanagh. “We as a nation have a long history of welcoming refugees, including here in Iowa. This letter simply advocates for our federal government to meet its stated goals for successfully resettling refugees in our country.”
The template letter was part of a campaign coordinated by Welcoming Refugees 2023, a national organization (www.welcomingrefugees2023.org). To date, the letter has been signed by 200 elected officials from 38 states. The organization’s website states, “In anticipation of the President’s annual decision on how many refugees the United States will resettle in the upcoming fiscal year, this nonpartisan, unbranded letter emphasizes how vital refugees are to the fabric of our communities, and why we need a robust, well-funded system to welcome them.”
The letter stated, “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.”
Original Report Below:
According to a story from KWWL, the Dubuque City Council approved a letter from Mayor Brad Cavanagh on Monday night that asks for President Biden to relocate refugees to US cities. The letter from Cavanagh cites record-low refugee resettling in 2021 as a call to action. Recent worker shortages across the US have fueled the decision from the Dubuque City Council to write the President.
See the full letter below:
Dear Mr. President:
As leaders in our communities and elected officials at all levels of state and local government, we write today to express our strong support for protecting and resettling refugees in the United States. We call on your Administration to meet its commitment to resettle refugees in Fiscal Year 2023 and to prioritize restoring our nation’s refugee resettlement infrastructure to ensure we achieve that goal. Refugee resettlement is not only a lifeline for refugees, but it also invigorates our communities—strengthening our economies and civic institutions. We urge you to consider the voices of elected leaders across the country as we join together in support of this life-saving program. As our experience with the evacuation of at-risk Afghans and our response to the war in Ukraine has laid bare, preserving and investing in refugee resettlement is key in order to effectively and humanely respond to emergency refugee situations, as well as continue U.S. leadership to protect those caught in protracted conflict across the globe.
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) recently reported that an unprecedented 100 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, 42 percent of which are children. Among them, UNHCR estimates that 2 million refugees need access to resettlement this year. Despite this, less than one percent are afforded this chance.
As a record-breaking refugee crisis unfolds globally, we have a chance to affirm U.S. leadership and our commitments to the world and to this nation by welcoming refugees into our communities. As elected leaders, we continually hear from our constituents that they support refugee resettlement. 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 were forced to flee in order to save their lives and are now looking for a place to be safe and call home again.
In FY 2021, the United States resettled 11,411 refugees, the lowest in any year on record. We applauded your action to increase the refugee admissions goal to 125,000 for FY 2022, but we are disappointingly on pace to reach less than 20 percent of that number. Resettlement offers refugees an important permanent pathway to safety. The recent pivot by the United States towards offering temporary pathways over resettlement, as we observed in the U.S. evacuation of Afghans for example, is the direct result of an underfunded resettlement process that cannot adequately scale-up during emergencies. We can and must do more. Our communities stand ready to welcome refugees in need. We are calling on your administration to double down on the investment of resources necessary to rebuild the resettlement program to welcome more refugees this upcoming fiscal year. 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. We are better and stronger because of refugees and their families. As state and local elected officials, we call on you to restore our nation’s standing as a leader in welcoming refugees by ensuring adequate resources are made available to restore the resettlement program and ensure we meet the FY 2023 resettlement goal. We hope that you will take into account our strong desire to welcome refugees as you make your determination.
Mayor City of Dubuque
Comments or questions can be directed to the Mayors office and city council. Follow this link for contacts: https://www.cityofdubuque.org/990/Mayor-City-Council and here https://www.cityofdubuque.org/213/Contact-the-Council.