40 Years of Welcome

Protect Refugee Resettlement and Asylum  

Week of Action March 17th, 2020
Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980

Despite National, Bipartisan Support, the Administration Has Dismantled Refugee Resettlement by 80% and Gutted the US Asylum System

The Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980

March 17, 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Refugee Act of 1980. This landmark legislation formally created the U.S. resettlement program, declared that the policy of the United States is "to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands," and was adopted with strong bipartisan support. Congress enacted the Refugee Act of 1980 to reflect U.S. leadership in refugee protection and resettlement. Congress understood that the U.S. resettlement program advanced our foreign policy priorities, supported U.S. national security, and stabilized host countries that bear the brunt of refugee crises around the world. This act also created the first statutory basis for asylum.

Click here for toolkit and files


  1. Host or Participate in a Press Conference, Action, or Public Witness Event the Week of March 17th
  2. Call your Senators and Representatives by Joining National Call-in Day on March 17th 
  3. Write Opinion Editorials & Letters to the Editor for Local Media Outlets
  4. Support on Social Media 

Today’s Reality: Refugee Resettlement and Asylum Are Being Dismantled

The administration’s anti-refugee policies fly in the face of both congressional intent and legislative history. This administration is violating the spirit of the Refugee Act of 1980 and our nation’s history by grinding refugee resettlement to a halt for months at a time, banning refugees from certain countries, attempting to end pathways for family reunification, trying to allow states and localities to veto refugee resettlement, and cutting resettlement numbers by more than 80%. Court intervention on the administration’s anti-refugee bans have reinforced how the administration’s policies contravene our moral and legal obligations. It is clear that this administration is not operating the resettlement program in good faith. 

Likewise, the US asylum system is being dismantled. More than 1 million people await a response to their request for asylum in the US as a result of the asylum blockade imposed by the Trump administration. 

During 2019, the humanitarian crisis in the migrant corridor of Central America – Mexico – U.S. left us with alarming figures that require urgent attention in 2020. The figures reflect the intensification of attacks on migrant populations and undermining of humanitarian protection by the Trump administration in the United States, including the "Remain in Mexico" policy, a devastating asylum agreement signed with Guatemala, and similar agreements with Honduras and El Salvador. Those who did manage to submit their asylum applications, despite all the obstacles, faced a system deliberately driven to the verge of collapse and an overwhelming backlog of cases.

A Critical Moment to Increase Public Awareness & Hold the Administration Accountable

Now is an opportunity to remind the public and policymakers about the longstanding, bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees in the United States, from the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 that helped the United States to welcome 650,000 Europeans in the wake of World War II, to the Migrant and Refugee Assistance Act in 1962, to the U.S. ratification of the Geneva Conventions in 1968, to the Refugee Act of 1980. Late March is also the half-way point in the federal fiscal year, which is a significant date to amplify how the administration is not on pace to meet the record-low 18,000 refugee admissions goal it set for Fiscal Year 2020.