While the parts of President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from seven countries and refugees from all countries were lifted by a federal judge (pending further appeal), another section reducing the total number of refugees the U.S. will accept has not been challenged and will likely mean no further refugees will be settled in the Mid-Hudson Valley this year, according to a letter today from Roisin Ford, interim office director of Church World Service Poughkeepsie and director of the group’s Immigration and Refugee Program for the Eastern Region. Previously, the organization had planned on resettling more refugees locally following the court ruling.
The cap on the total refugees was lowered from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. As of late last month, around 30,000 refugees had already been resettled across the U.S.
Church World Service, together with local volunteers, had been planning since last fall to relocate 80 refugees within a 50- to 100-mile radius of Poughkeepsie early this year. So far, only one family had made it, because they’d made arrangements just before the deadline. They were a family of five from the Congo who had spent six years living in a refugee camp of 20,000 in Malawi.
Ford said the Poughkeepsie office will remain open to help serve that family, though funding will be reduced to reflect the less-than-expected caseload. The group will continue to work on family reunification areas in the area, but won’t be able to accommodate offers from volunteers, “either for welcome teams or those having particular skills (social, language, teaching, etc.).” Ford suggested supporters call their local representative to advocate for refugee resettlement.
Ford noted that the president said last week that he planned to release a new executive order regarding immigration and refugees. If a new order were able to halt refugee resettlement without being struck down by the courts, it would cause further disruption to resettlement efforts now in progress.
Looking forward, “we are monitoring the situation as it unfolds at the national level, as well as the state and local environment, to determine how best to move forward in the longer term,” said Ford.