Washington could welcome more refugees after feds lift limits on admissions | KUOW News and Information

Washington could welcome more refugees after feds lift limits on admissions

May 31, 2017

Washington state could welcome more refugees soon.

The U.S. State Department said it will lift restrictions on refugee admissions.

The agency said that's because of  a new spending bill passed by Congress, not because of the legal battle over President Trump's travel ban.

Washington's refugee coordinator Sarah Peterson said the state is already on track to meet its goal of resettling 3,800 refugees this year, and this change could help the state exceed that goal.

But Peterson said mixed messages from the federal government have been a big challenge for resettlement agencies.

“In preparation for declining numbers, all of the eight refugee resettlement agencies that are located in Washington state reported to me that they had to lay off resettlement staff," Peterson said.

"Refugee resettlement is very time intensive and unpredictable.

"Having to cut back on staff and then receive information that they’re actually going to resettle as many refugees as they had been in the past, means the staff may start to feel stressed and challenged. That can be very hard on non-profit organizations that work under very lean budgets and provide a lot of services.”

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration attempted to cut in half the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S. from 110,000 to 50,000.

Nationally, refugee admissions have decreased by 66 percent since last October.