AAANY Statement on Syrian Refugees in Conjunction With the New York Immigration Coalition


New Yorkers Welcome Syrian Refugees: Backlash Against Refugees is Un-American
As proud New Yorkers, we write to express our support for the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and call on you to resist the fear and hysteria around refugees and immigrants following the violent, tragic attacks in Paris and Beirut last week.

The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. More than four million Syrians have fled from their home country fleeing conflict and violence, and 12 million are displaced internally. At a time when the world needs humanitarian leadership, some are now calling for the suspension, restrictions and delays of the U.S. refugee resettlement program. We oppose all these proposals and believe they would jeopardize the United States' moral leadership in the world.

Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris. They have suffered untold violence for almost five years. Most have lost loved ones to persecution and violence, in addition to having had their country and communities destroyed.

Refugees are the most thoroughly-vetted group of people who come to the United States, and there is absolutely no need for Congress to pass any additional security measures. Security screenings are rigorous and involve multiple Federal agencies, including a series of interviews, biometric and investigatory background checks. The entire process typically takes more than two years - and often much more - before the refugee arrives in the U.S. In addition the Administration is already taking steps to increase the capacity of its security and screening procedures for refugees. There is no need for Congress to impose additional restrictions or security measures.

Moreover, these efforts are misguided attempts to score political points by attacking refugees and immigrants. To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation's core values, and our long history of welcoming refugees - to the great benefit of our country. It would send a dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion. The United States has been a welcoming country, and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this.

We call upon Congress to demonstrate leadership by speaking out against the scapegoating of any group during this time of crisis and to ensure that our nation’s humanitarian efforts are robust.

We urge Senators and Representatives to demonstrate leadership by resisting any change to the U.S. refugee resettlement program, and instead paving the way for the United States to play its moral leadership role by expanding its resettlement efforts in a global time of need.