CIR Statement On Proposed State Department Budget

By CHUCK CASE
President of the Board of Directors
Santa Fe Council on International Relations
 
Since its founding in 1965, the Council on International Relations (CIR), has hosted international visitors through the State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). This venerable program has been a key element in citizen diplomacy between our country and other countries worldwide for the past 77 years, described by the State Department itself as its “premier professional exchange program.”
 
Approximately 5,000 emerging leaders visit the United States each year and more than 200,000 have visited since the program began, including 335 current or former chiefs of state and heads of government. Each year up to 250 young leaders come to Santa Fe; all told, we have hosted over 5,000 participants in our 52 years of participating in the IVLP program.
 
This program delivers tremendous “bang for the buck.” International affairs account for around 1 percent of the federal budget and less than one-tenth of 1 percent of that funding is directed toward IVLP and other exchange programs. 
 
Yet this relatively small amount of support allows organizations such as CIR to provide the on-the-ground local interaction that makes these visits dynamic and memorable experiences for our guests AND for our community in northern New Mexico. And, to be blunt, this funding allows CIR to survive.
 
However, this critical program, and CIR’s very existence, are now in great jeopardy. The President’s March 16 budget outline appears to ELIMINATE ALL OR MOST FUNDING FOR IVLP as part of a proposed 28 percent overall cut to State’s funding.
 
We cannot allow this to happen.
 
On behalf of CIR, and councils like ours around the country, please contact your U.S. senators and representatives to urge rejection of this portion of the President’s budget and to guarantee the retention of this important program. The cost is tiny but the impact is huge, both on our local level and internationally, where personal diplomacy is so effective in building bridges among nations and cultures.
 
And help us continue our important work by contributing to CIR now. Go towww.sfcir.org, click the DONATE button, and give generously. We are Santa Fe’s “Window on the World,” specializing in (i) immersing the community in timely and relevant global issues and (ii) educating young New Mexicans on international topics with local connections and consequences. On a local level, we attract the connected, curious, and consequential to participate in – and propel – the most significant global issues of our time as a means of fulfilling our core mission of engaging and educating the people of New Mexico to become responsible global citizens.
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