U.S. Reps. Ken Buck, Scott Tipton and Doug Lamborn sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 18 urging the administration to honor the country's “longstanding commitment to assist refugees.”
Citing the more than 20 million refugees worldwide, half of whom are children, the letter stated that “continued U.S. leadership is critical in addressing ongoing humanitarian crises caused by civil war and persecution and in assisting displaced persons.”
The authors, all Republicans, responded to the administration’s dramatic ratcheting-down of refugees that the U.S. will allow. President Donald Trump’s plan to only admit 18,000 asylum-seekers into the country next year is the lowest amount since the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program’s establishment in 1980.
The Reagan administration, by contrast, had a ceiling of 200,000 refugees, as CPR reports.
Buck cited his religious beliefs in a statement accompanying the letter’s release. “As a Christian, I believe we should assist those who are forced to flee their homes, and as Americans, I believe we should do everything we can to assist these refugees around the world,” he wrote.
Colorado’s Democratic House members and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a fellow Democrat, also sent a letter to Pompeo last month decrying the 18,000-person cap, citing the 30,000 refugees who settled in Colorado alone in the past two decades.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto a third letter circulated before the administration's announcement, in which a bipartisan group of senators called for a rise in the number of admitted refugees.
Despite their letter to the Trump administration, Buck, Tipton, and Lamborn voted under the Obama administration for the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which suspended entry of Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The bill cleared the House, but the Senate blocked its passage.