Bill Text (PDF)

Washington (February 1, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-18) reintroduced the Guaranteed Refugee Admission Ceiling Enhancement (GRACE) Act, legislation that would ensure a U.S. President could not set a Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions below 125,000. The Trump administration undermined the United States’s refugee program and set the annual refugee admissions target at historically low levels, including 15,000 in 2020. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, 108.4 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them, nearly 26 million are refugees, and more than half are under the age of 18.

“The United States is a beacon of hope, freedom, and democracy for those seeking a better life,” said Senator Markey. “But President Trump’s decision to roll back our refugee admissions and slam the door on those fleeing persecution was inhumane, racist, and antidemocratic. The GRACE Act will make sure that no siting U.S. president ever puts partisan, xenophobic politics first. We should seize the opportunity to reestablish, revitalize, and recognize our historic commitment to keeping our shores, borders, and hearts open for refugees around the world.”

“Leaders on both sides of the aisle have long recognized that a robust refugee program advances U.S. national security interests and is morally just,” said Representative Zoe Lofgren, a senior Member of the House Immigration Subcommittee and former immigration lawyer. “Yet, contrary to that consensus, America’s lifesaving program was gutted during the Trump Administration. That change betrayed our country's commitment to protect people fleeing persecution, including those who served alongside our troops, and made it necessary for Congress to act. The GRACE Act importantly strengthens existing U.S. law and reaffirms America’s longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees. As multiple global crises rage, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.” 

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

Cosponsors in the Senate include Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai'i), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.).

Beyond ensuring the President sets annual refugee admissions at 125,000 at minimum, the GRACE Act would also strengthen the refugee program by:

  • Automatically setting the annual level of refugee admissions at 125,000 if the President fails to issue a determination by the statutory deadline of October 1.
  • Ensuring that each officer responsible for refugee admissions or resettlement treats the Presidential Determination as a goal.
  • Encouraging the President to consider the report of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) on global resettlement needs when setting the Presidential Determination and determining regional allocations.
  • Mandating quarterly reports to Congress with specific oversight requirements.

The GRACE Act is endorsed by America's Voice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, Aspire For Humanity Initiatives, Azerbaijan Society Of Maine, Khmer Maine, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Security, Race and Rights, Center for Victims of Torture, Central American Resource Center of Northern CA - CARECEN SF, Church World Service, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles - Interfaith Refugee & Immigration Service, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC), Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc., HIAS, Hispanic Federation, Human Rights First, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project, , International Rescue Committee, Law Office of Sonia Parras PLLC, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lights for Liberty, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Maine Business Immigration Coalition, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, National Council of Jewish Women, National Immigration Law Center, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, National Partnership for New Americans, New York Immigration Coalition, Oxfam America, Refugee Congress, Refugees International, RefugePoint, Revolutionary Love Project, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team, Society of the Sacred Heart United States Canada Province, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Advocates for Human Rights, The Revolutionary Love Project, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), Union for Reform Judaism, United Stateless, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Veterans for American Ideals, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors-Bangor, Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center, Women for Afghan Women, and Yemeni American Merchants Association.

“The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program remains a long-standing success story in third-country resettlement. The GRACE Act would ensure refugee resettlement remains a key U.S. humanitarian priority,” said Anna Marie Bena, Senior Vice President of U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. “We applaud the sponsors of the GRACE Act for their leadership and urge Congress as a whole to continue investing in this program’s capacity to welcome newcomers amid record rates of forced displacement worldwide.”

“The U.S. has long been a global leader in refugee resettlement, a critical way to provide safety to some of the most vulnerable refugees who face specific or urgent protection risks,” said Giulia McPherson, Vice President of Advocacy at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “We thank Senator Markey for championing this issue and reintroducing The GRACE Act, which will safeguard the U.S. refugee resettlement program and help meet the growing needs of millions of displaced persons around the world.”

“As an organization serving a community with a large refugee population, we wholeheartedly support the GRACE Act. With numerous conflicts happening across the globe, the U.S. must show global leadership and welcome those fleeing war and persecution,” said Marpheen Chann, President of Khmer Maine.