Republican Rep. Ken Buck is among the members of Congress pushing back on the Trump administration’s plan to slash refugee numbers. In September, the administration said it would resettle 18,000 refugees next year — the lowest number in modern history.
Buck and 17 GOP members, including fellow Colorado Reps. Doug Lamborn and Scott Tipton, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday that asks the administration to consider allowing more refugees in.
“As the world continues to face an overwhelming refugee crisis, we respectfully urge you to uphold our nation’s commitment to assist individuals who have been displaced by violence and strife,” the letter stated.
The Weld County representative spearheaded this effort because “as a Christian, as a Congressman, as a Coloradan, as an American, I feel very strongly we should have a heart for people.”
He’s not the only one. Colorado Democratic members of Congress also sent a letter in late September that called on the administration to reverse its decision.
As the ranking Republican on the subcommittee on immigration and citizenship, Buck, along with other House and Senate judiciary committee leaders, met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the refugee resettlement numbers. He said the administration is taking a “holistic” view of things.
The administration cited the surge of asylum seekers along the southern border as the reason they cut refugee numbers. During the Reagan administration, refugee admissions hit a high of around 200,000. Buck recognizes that with the current backlog of asylum seekers, the administration won’t reach those numbers. But he would like to see it higher than the proposed 18,000.
“If we had a wall, if we had some changes to asylum law. We’d be able to increase the refugee numbers,” Buck said. He thinks that is something both parties in both chambers should look at.
“If we can reduce the backlog of asylum seekers, we can increase the number of refugees we allow into the country,” he said.
Buck added that people who come into the country illegally and claim asylum should not “be put in front of the line” over refugees, some of whom are also in desperate situations and have been waiting overseas for many years.