The global refugee crisis has been getting worse over the past several years. More than 65 million people have been forced from their homes by political instability, war, persecution, or extreme poverty. Some live in different parts of their homeland; others risk crossing borders to reach the relative relief of refugee camps and settlements.
But right at the beginning of his term, President Donald Trump moved to greatly restrict refugees' entry into the US. Former President Barack Obama had set the cap at 110,000 refugees for the 2017 fiscal year, but Trump issued an executive order in January halving it. And he set the cap at 45,000 refugees for 2018.
Here's what those restrictions look like so far in the Rochester area: From January 1 to November 30 this year, the Catholic Family Center received and resettled 397 refugees, compared to 1,111 for the same period in 2016, says Kathy Cronin Grant, a spokesperson for the organization. The center sponsors all refugees who resettle in the Rochester area; many of them are Bhutanese, Iraqi, or Congolese.
The national numbers follow a similar pattern. In October 2016, 9,945 refugees resettled in the US, compared to 1,248 refugees this past October.
"At a time of great danger and great need, we are not responding with love or caring," Cronin Grant says of the Trump administration refugee policies.
Catholic Family Center is getting ready to roll out a campaign intended to build support for refugees by helping the public understand who the refugees are. The Center is preparing a series of short vignettes on local refugees, which will be available at seetheirstories.org sometime over the next couple of weeks, Cronin Grant says. Versions will also air on some television stations.