(RNS) World Relief, a Christian humanitarian group, resettled twice as many refugees to the U.S. in September as it had in August, an increase that foretells a more robust resettlement pace for the nation in general.
The evangelical nonprofit -- one of the nine groups entrusted by the federal government to resettle refugees -- found homes for approximately 1,400 people in September. That's about 14 percent of the total refugees it resettled in the past year.
The increase comes on the heels of the Obama administration's raising of the annual refugee ceiling to 110,000 for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1. Under its Refugee Resettlement Program, the U.S. will resettle nearly 30 percent more refugees than it had in the previous fiscal year.
“Through their tireless commitment, hundreds of refugee families have received a warm welcome and found communities eager to receive them," World Relief President Scott Arbeiter said of his group's most recent resettlement efforts.
“With news of the increased refugee ceiling in fiscal year 2017, we are prepared to continue meeting the increased need into the next year by providing resettlement assistance to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”
The new ceiling, announced last month, disappointed advocates for refugees who had hoped for a higher number so the U.S. could help more people fleeing war, turmoil and famine abroad. It infuriated Republicans in Congress who have described refugees as potential terrorist threats.
The largest group of refugees, about 40,000, will come from the Middle East and South Asia in the coming year. Advocates for refugees are particularly hopeful about increasing the number of refugees from Syria, a nation devastated by civil war. In the past fiscal year, more than 10,000 Syrian refugees were allowed to resettle in the U.S.
Six of the nine groups that the federal government works with to resettle refugees are faith-based, and guided by the biblical injunction to welcome the stranger.
In addition to World Relief, they are: Church World Service, HIAS (formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and Episcopal Migration Ministries.