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AHRC DEMANDS MORE FOR LGBTQI+ REFUGEES after President Biden Sets Refugee Goal for 2023

This week under his congressional mandate, President Biden just set the refugees admissions goal for 2023 to 125,000 for which we are grateful. We understand Trump had decimated the infrastructure and so given this fact this may be perceived as a bold goal. Yet it is not enough and we can do better. Human rights groups had recommended that President Biden set a goal of 200,000-250,000 – an ambitious number reflecting the growing global need for refugee resettlement and the demonstrated ability of the administration to scale up services.

Over the last year, the United States only resettled about one-fifth of the year’s refugee admissions goal through the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), but an additional 105,000 Afghans and Ukrainians were welcomed through humanitarian parole, a temporary form of protection provided through Operation Allies Welcome and the Uniting for Ukraine program.

MELANIE NATHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION: We demand more action and dedicated pathways/solutions for LGBTQI+ people from African countries who are fleeing persecution, assault, rape and death!

African Human Rights Coalition represents LGBTQI+ people forcibly displaced from African countries fleeing criminalization of sexuality and gender identity, and the violence and oppression it licenses, as a particularly marginalized refugee community.

This community faces unique protection related issues because they are forced to seek protection in countries that ALSO criminalize and persecute their own LGBTQI+ citizens. They enter hostile host countries because they have no other choice.

These countries are increasingly refusing to register LGBTQI+ people as refugees and they are most often excluded from the refugee process, related services and resources that heterosexual and cis gender refugees receive.

While we do not expect to receive “special treatment” for LGBTQI+ people, we must find specific solutions just in the same way as the American and other Governments found specific solutions for Ukrainians when needed. What happened in Ukraine illustrates what is possible. Yet America has done very little to create the paths necessary to accommodate LGBTQI refugees, other than lump them in the “business as usual” category. And yet for LGBTQI+ people it is NOT business as usual because they are often denied registration by local governments charged with registering their mandates. AHRC is asking all governments to include the United States Biden administration to work beyond the usual lip service and actual come up with solutions. We recognize that the refugee admissions goal is a promise toward continuing to rebuild the US resettlement program that had been decimated by Trump’s administration. Yet even in the context of such rebuilding Biden has not done enough to find solutions for LGBTQI+ African cornered and stuck in terrifying and unsustainable supposedly protective situations.

AHRC calls on Biden to turn words into real practice. The United States has the means and wherewithal to invest in solutions particularly designed for LGBTQI+ asylum seekers from criminalizing countries, at the very least. Why is this not happening? If we could provide paths for Jewish people from the old Soviet Union, USSR, and paths for Ukrainians to skip the line ( so to speak), why can we not do that for people who have zero solutions other than unique considerations?

We urge the U.S. Congress and the administration to work together to provide funding for the US refugee resettlement program in the FY23 budget and to find particular solutions for LGBTQI+ refugees, not just from white countries such as Ukraine but from Africa, the Middle East and other areas where they can be killed just for being who they are!

If anything, this new and ongoing humanitarian crises, now yielding over 100 million people in forced displacement, has shown us that need demands solution and that any those who are most marginalized must receive pathways and as a matter of urgency. Watching Ukraine we now Know know what is possible – and for America to leave LGBTQI+ Africans out of the special solutions they command is inhumane and unacceptable.

REPEAT: We demand more action and dedicated pathways/solutions for LGBTQI+ people from African countries who are fleeing persecution, assault, rape and death!

To quote RCUSA Executive Director John Slocum. “Our nation’s resettlement system has risen to the challenge, bolstered by the mobilization of new community-centered efforts to offer support and welcome to refugees and displaced people. Despite the previous administration’s attempts to dismantle resettlement, President Biden, Congress, nonprofit agencies, corporate partners, and ordinary Americans from across the country have demonstrated that it is possible – with the proper support and adequate resources – to build out significant pathways of welcome. The US Refugee Admissions Program is the cornerstone of humanitarian protection. It provides core services and a pathway to permanent status – factors that are key to ensuring long-term safety, economic opportunity, and a dignified life for forcibly displaced people. The US economy and the country as a whole benefits enormously from the presence of these newcomers. Our elected officials must rebuild and reinvest in this essential program to successfully meet the 125,000 admissions goal. We know it is possible.”

We reiterate the above on behalf of specific pathways and quotas that MUST be designed fr LGBTQI+ refugees.

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Memorandum on Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2023

Presidential Determination No. 2022-25 MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2023

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, in accordance with section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (the “Act”) (8 U.S.C. 1157), and after appropriate consultations with the Congress, I hereby make the following determinations and authorize the following actions: The admission of up to 125,000 refugees to the United States during Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest. The admissions numbers shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with the following regional allocations: Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40,000 East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000 Europe and Central Asia . . . . . . 15,000 Latin America/Caribbean . . . . . . 15,000 Near East/South Asia . . . . . . . . 35,000 Unallocated Reserve . . . . . . . . . 5,000 The 5,000 unallocated refugee numbers shall be allocated to regional ceilings, as needed. Upon providing notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are hereby authorized to use unallocated admissions in regions where the need for additional admissions arises. Additionally, upon notification to the Judiciary Committees of the Congress, you are further authorized to transfer unused admissions allocated to a particular region to one or more other regions, if there is a need for greater admissions for the region or regions to which the admissions are being transferred. Consistent with section 2(b)(2) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (22 U.S.C. 2601(b)(2)), I hereby determine that assistance to or on behalf of persons applying for admission to the United States as part of the overseas refugee admissions program will contribute to the foreign policy interests of the United States and designate such persons for this purpose. Consistent with section 101(a)(42) of the Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 (a)(42)), and after appropriate consultation with the Congress, I also specify that, for FY 2023, the following persons may, if otherwise qualified, be considered refugees for the purpose of admission to the United States within their countries of nationality or habitual residence:

a. Persons in Cuba; b. Persons in Eurasia and the Baltics; c. Persons in Iraq; d. Persons in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; and e. In certain circumstances, persons identified by a United States Embassy in any location.

You are authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.


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