EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated in the last paragraph to clarify the impact of Title 42.
WASHINGTON (BP) – Refugee resettlement in the U.S., a cause promoted by Southern Baptists and other evangelicals, doubled in March from the previous month, the Department of State said in its monthly report.
The U.S. accepted 6,122 refugees in March, double the February total of 3,069 and far surpassing previous months this fiscal year ranging from 2,152 to 2,481. Yet, if resettlement continues monthly at the March count, resettlement would fall far below the annual national cap of 125,000, the National Immigration Forum reported.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) praised the increase but said more progress is needed.
“It is encouraging to see, at long last, the U.S. refugee resettlement program regain traction in helping the most vulnerable reach safety” ERLC Policy Manager Hannah Daniel told Baptist Press. “There is certainly more work to be done in rebuilding this vital program, but these recent numbers offer a first glimpse that progress is being made.
“Southern Baptists remain committed to supporting the refugee resettlement program, welcoming those who arrive in our communities, and sharing the Gospel with as many of them as possible.”
At the March rate, the U.S. would accept about 55,000 refugees through the fiscal year ending in September, less than half the number allowed. Resettlement through March this fiscal year is 18,429.
The ERLC has advocated for an increase in the refugee resettlement ceiling and the amount of resources committed to the work to help a range of refugees including those persecuted for their faith and those fleeing hostile authoritarian regimes.
Texas accepted the largest number of refugees in March – 1,664 – although the report doesn’t indicate whether the refugees remained within the state. Others accepting the largest numbers, according to the State Department, were New York at 1,125, California with 1,089, Kentucky, 964, and North Carolina, 850. The smallest numbers were reported for Mississippi, which accepted none; followed by Alaska with 11, Arizona with 12 and Louisiana, 26.
Refugees predominantly came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 2,441; Syria, 711; Afghanistan, 495, and Iraq, 169, but numbers and origins vary greatly monthly.
An influx of asylum seekers at the southern border is anticipated in May when Title 42 limitations aimed at controlling COVID-19 will expire. The limitations allowed asylum seekers to be returned to their country of origin or the country through which they entered the U.S., often Mexico.