BY ISN STAFF | November 13, 2020
On November 12, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden, at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of Jesuit Refugee Service, pledged to increase the U.S. refugee ceiling to 125,000 during his first year in office. This is a dramatic increase compared to President Trump’s fiscal year 2021 Presidential Determination for Refugee Admissions of just 15,000, the lowest in U.S. history.
During the event hosted by Jesuit Refugee Service/USA (JRS/USA), President-elect Biden celebrated the work of JRS/USA as an organization founded to “serve the needs of some of the most vulnerable among us, refugees and displaced people.” He affirmed JRS/USA’s belief that “in the stranger, we actually meet our neighbor, and that every society is ultimately judged by how we treat those most in need.”
“The United States has long stood as a beacon of hope for the downtrodden and the oppressed, a leader of resettling refugees in our humanitarian response,” he said. “I promise, as president, I will reclaim that proud legacy for our country. The Biden-Harris administration will restore America’s historic role in protecting the vulnerable and defending the rights of refugees everywhere and raising our annual refugee admission target to 125,000.”
He concluded his message by saying “together, we must all work for a more resilient, inclusive, and hopeful future for our world.
The event brought together celebrities, refugee talent, and leaders to mark 40 years of service to refugees—including Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; the Honorable Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; comedian Jim Gaffigan and writer, director, and producer Jeannie Gaffigan; Dr. Anthony Fauci; Marcus Samuelsson, chef and restaurateur; Rev. James Martin, S.J., esteemed author and editor; Katie Ledecky, swimmer and olympian; JRS staff and beneficiaries; Lual Mayen, CEO of Junub Games; Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus. The live virtual event recognized the work JRS has done over the last four decades, expressing a continued commitment to providing service to refugees, and honoring the leadership and support during the organization’s history.
Jesuit Refugee Service was founded in November 1980 by Rev. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., who was then the Superior Generalof the Society of Jesus. In 1983, JRS/USA was established as part of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, then the U.S. Jesuit Conference. Today, JRS serves over 800,000 people in 56 countries, providing pastoral care, psychosocial support programs, humanitarian aid, education and livelihood programs, and advocating for the rights of refugees.
Fr. Sosa, Superior General of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), said “JRS has been an important expression of the Society’s commitment to love and accompany the poor and excluded…JRS has grown in ways that must have been unimaginable to Fr. Arrupe in 1980.” Fr. Sosa has called upon the Jesuit network worldwide to recognize November 14, the official anniversary, as JRS Day annually, recognizing “the Society of Jesus’ response to the needs of forcibly displaced people through the mission of JRS.”