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Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska Hopes Refugee Resettlement Ceiling is Raised, Not Lowered

Sep 21, 2018

If Congress approves the Trump administration’s proposal, the ceiling for refugee resettlement for 2019 will be the lowest it has been since the program was started decades ago.  

Last year, the ceiling was 110,000; this year 45,000, and the proposal for next year is 30,000. 

Emily Sutton, statewide administrator for Community Services at Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, says there are 25 million people worldwide registered as refugees – and that many spend a decade or more in a refugee camp before being relocated.   

Sutton says the refugees who have been resettled in Nebraska have a wide variety of backgrounds and skillsets – -- from PhDs and physicians to agricultural workers. 

“But what we see, and particularly in smaller towns in Nebraska, is that a lot of our agricultural businesses, a lot of our meatpacking plants really have a large immigrant and refugee employee base. And they’re happy. They’re happy to take those jobs, and they’ve got experience in their home countries in agriculture or ranching. And so, we do know in Nebraska a very large portion of our labor workforce in those blue collar level jobs are immigrants and refugees...Refugees come and bring with them a very hard work ethic.  In fact, in Nebraska, refugees have impacted particularly smaller towns, economically, which has allowed those smaller towns to continue to thrive and survive, essentially”

A 2012 study by University of Nebraska - Lincoln economics professor, Chris Decker, on the impact of refugees on the Lincoln community supported this positive view of refugees’ contributions.  In a September 15th Lincoln Journal Star article, he’s quoted as saying, “not only are they productive workers, but they support growth in local industries and those industries in turn expand, which leads to what we call a ‘multiplier effect.’”

And according to a May 2018 Dallas Morning News article, the low unemployment rate has led to some Midwestern companies “literally rolling out the welcome mat for immigrants and refugees.”  

Sutton says in 2017, LFS Nebraska resettled nearly 1,000 refugees statewide.  This year they expect to resettle around 250, and next year even fewer.  She says LFS hopes concerned citizens will ask their representatives to raise the ceiling to 75,000 for the 2019 fiscal year.

For more information, the website is lfsneb.org