For Immediate Release
November 17, 2015
Washington, DC – As a non-political, Syrian American led humanitarian organization, SAMS strongly supports the U.S. refugee resettlement program, which resettles tens of thousands of refugees from around the world each year, and calls for all government leaders to maintain policy stances that are open-hearted to the most vulnerable populations and non-discriminatory in nature.
SAMS expresses strong disappointment and concern in the declarations made by the governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin to not allow Syrian refugees to be resettled in their states. Not only are these declarations unenforceable, as there is no lawful means for a state government to dictate immigration and refugee resettlement policy to the Administration, but they are discriminatory in nature and designed to incite hate. SAMS calls on these governors to rescind their statements against local Syrian refugee resettlement and ensure that state pronouncements are inclusive of all people without discrimination based on ethnicity, race, or religion. “Syrian refugees are mothers, brothers, orphans, families fleeing unthinkable violence from barrel bombs and extremism. They deserve our support, not our disdain,” says SAMS President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji.
SAMS also opposes the various pieces of proposed legislation designed to limit the resettlement of Syrian refugees. We call on all members of Congress to:
- Demonstrate leadership by opposing inflammatory and discriminatory legislation, including H.R. 3573, the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act
- Fully fund essential humanitarian and refugee accounts. It is essential that ample assistance is provided to the refugee response in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, which together house 86% of Syrian refugees. With services and assistance at a regional level, more refugees will be able and willing to remain in the region, and fewer will flee to Europe or desperately need resettlement. Furthermore, funding is needed to maintain the stringent and rigorous vetting processes already in place through the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security so that refugees being resettled in the U.S. are properly vetted and assisted once they arrive. We call for funding at the following levels or higher:
- Migration and Refugee Assistance (SFOps): $3.604 billion
- International Disaster Assistance (SFOps): $2.42 billion ($950 million for EFSP)
- Refugee and Entrant Assistance (L/HHS): $2.44 billion
- Dept. of Homeland Security Refugee Corps (DHS): $17.3 million in direct appropriations (+ $32.3 million from anticipated fees for a total of $49.6 million for DHS to do refugee resettlement screening)
The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. More than 4 million Syrians have fled their homes due to conflict and violence, and 12 million are displaced internally. For nearly five years, they have been victims of unspeakable violence, losing not only their country and community but also family members and friends.
The United States has always taken a leadership role in assisting vulnerable refugees fleeing major disasters, accepting the majority of all UNHCR referrals from around the world. Refugees are thoroughly vetted through a screening process that involves the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, FBI, and multiple intelligence agencies. Each refugee is personally interviewed and undergoes a series of biometric and investigatory background checks. The U.S. vetting process is the most robust in the world and typically takes more than two years.
The Syrian American Medical Society mourns the victims of the horrific attacks in Paris, and condemns in the greatest terms these inhumane attacks against civilians. Syrian refugees are fleeing terror and violence similar to that which unfolded on the streets of Paris.
Refugee resettlement is not a partisan issue. It is a human issue. SAMS calls on all policymakers to immediately cease rhetoric and resolutions that demonize refugees and Syrians as a group, and to support fully funding humanitarian accounts that will assist with the refugee vetting process and regional support for Syrian refugees.
For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Advocacy and Communications Manager Kat Fallon at [email protected] or by phone at 202-854-1394.