Senators Press Obama to Meet Commitment to Resettle 10,000 Syrian Refugees this Fiscal Year
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today applauded a group of 27 senators for expressing support for the resettlement of Syrian refugees and calling on the Obama Administration to meet its goal to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 30. The call came in a letter to the president led by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), asking the president to provide an update on how he intends to meet this goal.
“With only five months remaining in the fiscal year, the administration still has a long way to go toward meeting its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees fleeing horrific conflict and persecution,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley. “We welcome the leadership of Senators Durbin and Klobuchar, along with all of the signers of today’s letter who are making it clear to the president that not meeting this modest goal would be a failure of U.S. leadership.”
“In successfully resettling refugees from conflict zones around the world for decades the United States has not been dissuaded by fear and we should not be now. We strongly support the Administration’s commitment to resettle Syrian refugees and ask you to update us on how your commitment will be met by the end of the fiscal year,” wrote the senators.
As of the end of April, seven months into the fiscal year, the United States had resettled only 1,736 Syrian refugees. This amounts to 17.4% of the 10,000 Syrian refugees the U.S. government has pledged to resettle by September 30, 2016.
Last month, Human Rights First released a new report detailing the slow progress the Obama Administration has made toward its goal of resettling at least 10,000 Syrian refugees by September 30, 2016. The report outlines how U.S. processing of resettlement cases, as well as processing of Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications from individuals who worked with the U.S. military, have been hampered by bottlenecks, backlogs, and staffing gaps, making it difficult for the United States to meet its minimal resettlement commitment.
National security experts have explained that increased U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees would protect the stability of important U.S. allies in the region, as detailed in Human Rights First’s February report, “The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Need for U.S. Leadership.” 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 confirms that Syrian refugees are vetted more intensively than any other traveler to the United States.
A bipartisan group of former humanitarian and national security officials has recommended that the United States resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees, and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has also recommended that the United States resettle 100,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees.