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First Coast

World Relief Jacksonville Anticipates Meeting Annual Resettlement Goals, But Wary Of Future

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World Relief Jacksonville
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It’s been less than a week since the U.S. State Department quietly alerted refugee resettlement organizations it was lifting a weekly quota of refugees entering the country.

But officials at one local resettlement nonprofit said the move is nothing more than a temporary reprieve.

“Right now our organization has not heard anything, that I know of, about an increase. But what we do know of is that when that budget was passed, (it was) passed for 75,000 arrivals,” said Travis Trice with World Relief Jacksonville.

That budget he’s referring to is a spending bill passed earlier this month to keep the government functioning through the fiscal year, which ends in September.

Budget uncertainty led the State Department to limit weekly refugee arrivals to around 900, but with more funding that number will jump by 600.

President Trump sought to cap yearly resettlements at 50,000 people, less than half of what it was in years past. But two different court rulings blocked his executive orders.

Trice said his organization is within 170 resettlements of meeting its original goal of just more than 6,600, but it’s the years ahead he’s worried about. He said his group is hoping to lay the groundwork now for a climate more favorable to refugees in the near future.

“A lot of advocacy needs to take place, not next year when it’s too late, but now. We are looking at this Congress, this year and we do have some advocacy we’re working on. Not just World Relief, by the way, there’s a number of resettlement organizations that are putting on some advocacy work that’s going to take place June 12 through the 16th,” he said.

Trice said the four-day action is called Stand Up For Refugees and the main goal is to get supporters to bank at least 100,000 phone calls to Congress expressing support for a fully-funded refugee resettlement program.

Ryan Benk can be reached at rbenk@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.