State Department Should Drastically Increase Resettlement in FY 2017
In response to the Department of State’s Request for Public Comment on its Fiscal Year 2017 refugee resettlement program, Human Rights First has urged the government to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, over and above the total refugee ceiling.
The United States has a long history of leadership in providing refuge to victims of religious, political, ethnic, and other forms of persecution. However, our response to the Syrian refugee crisis has fallen short of our history and values. In Fiscal Year 2016, the president established the ceiling for refugee admissions into the United States at 85,000 refugees, including “at least 10,000” Syrian refugees. This amounts to only about two percent of the Syrian refugees in need of resettlement, and just 0.2 percent of the overall Syrian refugee population of 4.8 million in the region around Syria.
The current lack of effective resettlement or other orderly routes to protection has significant consequences, including contributing to instability in the region and driving many Syrian refugees to embark on dangerous trips to Europe. Already in 2016, 1,375 people have died or are missing at sea as they attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean.
In order to advance U.S. national security interests and continue to provide global leadership on refugee resettlement, the United States must significantly increase its resettlement of Syrian refugees beyond these levels in FY 2017. As detailed in the comment we submitted to the State Department, the U.S. government should aim to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in FY 2017 in addition to resettling roughly 75,000 refugees from other regions and countries, including Central America.