Contact: Louisa Tavlas
Director of Communications, Niskanen Center

Maryland Lawmakers Call For Privately Funded Refugee Resettlement Program

Washington, D.C. – August 11, 2016—Today, 22 Maryland state lawmakers urged Secretary of State John Kerry to launch a privately funded refugee program that would allow the American people to contribute towards increasing refugee resettlement totals.

The letter, signed by 4 state senators and 18 delegates, comes in the midst of an unprecedented global refugee crisis, which has left more than 21 million people in need of assistance. The U.S. is resettling a mere 85,000 refugees this year, but private sector contributions can provide the funding to substantially increase that number, while maintaining security measures already in place for refugee admissions.

The Niskanen Center—which published original research on the topic of privately funded refugee resettlement and has spearheaded efforts to launch such a program—applauds the legislators letter.

“To refuse Americans the ability to contribute towards increasing refugee resettlement is simply a flawed policy. Relying on the private sector worked in the U.S. during the Reagan Administration and currently works in Canada and elsewhere,” says immigration counsel at the Niskanen Center, Kristie De Peña.

Under current law, no additional financial donations can increase the refugee quota set by the White House. The Maryland lawmakers want to link charitable contributions to increases in refugee resettlement limits: more money raised translates to more lives saved. The letter proclaims that “American citizens, charities, foundations, faith groups, universities, and businesses should have the right to contribute towards increased refugee resettlement.”

“The American people are known for their compassion and philanthropy, and their response to the refugee crisis should not be an exception,” says Matthew La Corte, immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center. “This letter clearly captures the prevailing sentiment that Americans want to help, and will help—if provided an avenue to do so.

Established in 2014, the Niskanen Center is a libertarian 501(c)(3) advocacy organization that works to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.