Congress Urged to Reject Proposals to Deny Funding for Refugee Resettlement
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today called on Congress to reject any proposals that would remove funding for the resettlement of vulnerable Syrian and Iraqi refugees from the omnibus budget.
“Slamming the door on vulnerable refugee families fleeing horrific conflict and terrorism would not only violate American values but would undermine national security interests,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley. “The global refugee crisis is weakening the stability of front-line refugee hosting states in a region that includes key U.S. allies. Congress should reject any proposals that would diminish the U.S. ability to meet it’s stated resettlement goals, and should work with the administration to lead by example by launching a comprehensive global initiative to address this crisis.”
Citing unfounded security claims, several members of Congress have launched a new effort to remove language providing funding for the processing and resettlement of refugees from Iraq and Syria from the Department of Homeland Security’s budget. A recent Human Rights First report outlines the extensive vetting and security clearance process, the most rigorous process applied to any traveling to the United States, used to screen Syrian refugees before they are admitted to the United States. In a December 2015 letter from a bipartisan group of 20 former U.S. national security advisors, CIA directors, secretaries of state, defense, and homeland security, confirm this rigorous vetting and express that failing to provide refuge to those fleeing violence would undermine the United States’ core objective of combating terrorism.
The report also details the deteriorating conditions facing Syrian refugees across the region, the backlogs hampering U.S. progress toward meeting its commitment to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees this year, and the impact of the failure to effectively address the refugees crisis on the stability of front-line refugee hosting states. The report’s findings and recommendations are based on a recent research trip to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, where Human Rights First staff met with refugees, aid organizations, resettlement experts and others in the region.
Over 4.8 million Syrians have fled their country due to conflict and persecution, with Syrian border states, including Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, hosting the majority of these refugees. In response to the large influx of refugees states have closed their borders, blocking civilians from escaping Syria, and imposed restrictions that make it difficult for many refugees living in the region to remain. Most refugees are prohibited from working legally, and are left in constant fear of detention and deportation back to Syria. In Jordan, Lebanon, and parts of Turkey, the large number of refugees is straining critical infrastructures— including water, sanitation, medical care, education and housing, as well as economic and job markets.