Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) told President Trump in a recent letter that his state will continue to accept refugees fleeing violence and persecution after the White House proposed “sharply reducing” the cap of refugees that could be admitted to the country last month.
In the letter, which is addressed to Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Wolf said he was writing to “reaffirm Pennsylvania’s founding values and our commitment to be a welcoming state” and confirm that his state will “continue to welcome refugees to live and work in our communities.”
“It is vital that America retain its moral authority throughout the world,” the Pennsylvania Democrat wrote. “And that means that when vulnerable and displaced individuals seek refuge from violence and oppression elsewhere, we welcome them to find that refuge in America.”
“To reject refugees outright emboldens the message of those who seek to inspire hatred by saying that we, as Americans, do not have compassion or care for specific groups of people in the world facing persecution or worse,” Wolf continued.
He went on write that he was “dismayed” after the Trump administration announced plans to reduce the refugee cap to 18,000 for fiscal 2020, a far jump from former President Obama’s proposed cap of 116,000 refugees in 2016.
Wolf said that his state will be accepting refugees if they are turned away by other states as a result of the decision.
“But I remain committed to ensure — to the fullest extent possible — that Pennsylvania continues our founding traditions of tolerance and acceptance,” he added. “If other states reject these families, they will be welcomed here.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who will soon be stepping down from his post, last month defended the administration’s proposal to slash refugee admissions, saying it would allow the Department of Homeland Security “to focus on addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border” and reduce “aa staggering asylum backlog.”
The proposal, which would set the number of refugee admissions to the lowest levels ever seen since the program’s inception in 1980, was met with swift opposition from Democrats at the time.
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) called the proposal “a huge step backwards for US leadership around the world.”
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus also condemned the move at the time, tweeting, “Bipartisan lawmakers, faith groups, and everyday Americans have long stood by our commitment to refugees.”
“We cannot let this Admin abandon our values for the sake of the Trump’s racist agenda,” the caucus added.