West Michigan organization fears continued decline in refugee resettlement | Michigan Radio

West Michigan organization fears continued decline in refugee resettlement

Sep 16, 2019

A group that helps resettle immigrants and refugees in West Michigan is worried about the Trump administration's plans to dramatically reduce the annual cap on the number of refugees admitted into the United States.

Bethany Christian Services is a Grand Rapids-based social services organization that resettles refugees and immigrants in West Michigan and a part of Pennsylvania. Beth Caldwell, the organization’s associate director of refugee and immigrant programs in Grand Rapids, says Bethany has worked with more than 500 employers to get refugees jobs.

“These are really hardworking men and women with unique skills that are sought-after by local employers,” Caldwell said. “We’ve placed a lot of refugees in employment opportunities in west Michigan and the employers that we work with would like to see more.”

A Pew Research Center analysis of U.N. data found the number of refugees resettled in the United States declined from 97,000 in fiscal year 2016, to 23,000 last year. This year’s cap is set near 30,000. The New York Times reports one Trump administration official pitched further reducing the annual refugee limit to zero.

Last week, Bethany Christian Services President and CEO Chris Palusky met with staffers for Vice President Mike Pence to share the organization’s concerns.

The White House is expected to make a final decision on the refugee cap by the end of September.