EDITORIAL: Refugees: America to lead again

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The Free Press, Mankato, Minn.
·2 min read
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May 5—America renewed its promise to being a safe haven for refugees around the world when President Joe Biden expanded on Monday the limits for accepting these hard-working immigrants.

It won't be easy and Biden stumbled a bit approving the new limits as he had earlier announced he would. But the move was a response to bipartisan criticism that he was falling back on his promise to greatly expand the 15,000 per-year limits set by former President Donald Trump.

Biden's main concern was dealing with an influx of unaccompanied children at the border and resettling them in safe places, a system that had been somewhat dismantled by Trump.

And even though it will be difficult to resettle all of the now-allowed 62,500 refugees immediately, refugee resettlement groups applauded the move saying it gives refugees confidence in America's commitment and they will likely make great sacrifices to start their new lives in the United States.

Biden also removed Trump restrictions in limiting refugees from war-torn African and Muslim countries such as Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee resettlement not only because it's the right thing to do — to save people from devastation and death in their home countries — but because America's tremendous economic success from its beginning has been built with the sweat of immigrants and refugees.

In the 1990s, U.S. business benefitted from a great wave of Hmong refugees. In the last 20 years, Minnesota has become the largest resettlement of Somali refugees. Groups such as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce point to the tremendous boost the refugee and immigrant population have made to the work force.

Many refugees have set up small businesses and brought diversity to neighborhoods with restaurants and stores. Others took important jobs taking care of the elderly or working in service businesses.

The expansion of refugee limits will allow some 100 refugee support organizations that were shut down during the Trump years to once again get up and running.

The expanded limits are a "critical step toward rebuilding the program and returning the U.S. to our global humanitarian leadership role," said Krish O'Mara Vignarajah, head of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service.

America has long been admired around the world for its commitment to human rights. Now, we can lead again.