National and Local Organizations Send Letter to President Obama Urging Action on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

September 18, 2015

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We, the undersigned organizations, write to you today with urgent recommendations for how the United States should respond to the spiraling refugee crisis in the Middle East that is now overflowing to Europe and beyond.

Our recommendations are as follows:

  1. In light of the continuing escalation of the dire refugee crises in the Middle East, contributing to the largest number of refugees since World War II, we urge the United States to increase the number of refugees that we resettle to 200,000 for FY 16, with 100,000 of them being Syrian. This would not be the first time that the United States proudly carries out our historic tradition of welcoming refugees in large numbers. After the end of the wars in Southeast Asia, the United States resettled 111,000 Vietnamese refugees in 1979 and then essentially doubled that number to 207,000 in 1980. The United States’ rising to the occasion now would both encourage European nations to live up to their refugee protection obligations, and help to prevent further deterioration in the protection climate in the countries bordering on Syria that are currently hosting millions of Syrian refugees.
     
  2. We believe that the vast majority of European countries have the capacity to welcome and provide protection for the refugees who are now risking their lives to find safety in Europe. However, the United States must show solidarity with its close allies in Europe and resettle a small number of refugees from Europe, including U.S. family reunification cases, unaccompanied refugee minors, and refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who have close ties to the United States (NGO workers, interpreters, people affiliate with US business and other interests).
     
  3. The United States has provided $4 billion in funding to address the Syrian humanitarian crisis. We commend this tremendous generosity, but given that only 37% of the U.N’s funding appeal in response to the crisis has been funded, we encourage the United States to continue to urge other countries to increase their funding of the humanitarian response while at the same time continuing to increase the amount that the United States gives.
     
  4. It is abundantly clear that the Syrian crisis is nowhere close to ending, and even when it does, the needs of those displaced by the crisis will take years, if not generations, to resolve. It is therefore imperative that refugee hosting countries in the region allow refugees to start to legally work. Allowing them to do so will provide them with the opportunity to support their families, and in doing so, will help to alleviate the crushing poverty and desperation that are forcing so many to make the treacherous journeys to Europe. It is also imperative that the United States engage with major development actors to encourage the expansion of development plans to include refugee and refugee host communities in a further effort to address the extremely dire conditions in which millions are now living throughout the region. This effort could be supported by the convening of a major international conference where the United States could announce its plans to lead the response.

We look forward to working with government partners to ensure that no refugee in need of protection is left behind.

Thank you for your committed leadership on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable.

Sincerely,

National Organizations

  • African Community Center
  • Alliance for Citizenship
  • American Baptist Churches USA
  • American Immigration Council
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • The America Team for Displaced Eritreans
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Arab American Institute
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
  • Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • Church World Service
  • Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
  • Conference of Major Superiors of Men
  • Conventual Franicscan Friars-Province of Our Lady of Consolation
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Disciples Center for Public Witness
  • Disciples Justice Action Network
  • The Episcopal Church
  • Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Franciscan Action Network
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Handicap International
  • HIAS
  • Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters-USA, Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
  • Human Rights First
  • International Catholic Migration Commission
  • International Rescue Committee
  • IRAP (International Refugee Assistance Project)
  • Islamic Relief USA
  • Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
  • Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province
  • Karam Foundation, NFP
  • Kids in Need of Defense
  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • National Immigrant Justice Center
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National Justice for Our Neighbors
  • National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • Notre Dame de Namur
  • Office of Peace, Justice and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
  • The Office of Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA)
  • OneAmerica
  • Oxfam America
  • Pax Christi USA
  • Plan International USA
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  • Refugee Congress (USA)
  • Relief International
  • Save the Children USA
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame, Atlantic-Midwest Province, JPIC Office
  • Shaam Relief Foundation
  • Silk Road Leadership
  • Sisters of Bon Secours, USA
  • Sisters of Mercy of the Americas' Institute Justice Team
  • Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
  • Sojourners
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  • Syrian Solidarity Movement
  • Syrian American Council
  • Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
  • Syria Relief and Development
  • Turkish Heritage Organization
  • Turkish Policy Center
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • United Methodist Church
  • United We Dream
  • Watan USA
  • Women for Humanity
  • Women's Refugee Commission
  • Zakat
  • Foundation of America


Local Organizations

Arizona

  • Arizona Immigrant and Refugee Service (AIRS)
  • Southwest Conference United Church of Christ
  • Arkansas
  • Arkansas Interfaith Alliance

California

  • Alliance for African Assistance
  • Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship
  • CARECEN San Francisco
  • International Institute of Los Angeles (IILA)
  • Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity
  • Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, and Marin and Sonoma Counties
  • Korean Resource Center
  • Religious Sisters of Charity
  • Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

Colorado

  • Asian Pacific Development Center
  • CREED Connections
  • ECDC African Community Center
  • Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation-Sisters of Saint Francis
  • Lutheran Family Services Refugee and Asylee Program
  • Together Colorado Immigration Committee
  • Connecticut
  • IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services

Florida

  • Coptic Orthodox Charities
  • Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community
  • Services, Inc.
  • Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Gainesville, Florida
  • North Georgia Immigrant Justice

Illinois

  • Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Korean American Resource and Cultural Center
  • Project IRENE
  • Syrian Community Network
  • Wheaton Franciscans

Indiana

  • Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.
  • Iowa
  • Crossing Borders–Dubuque
  • Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM)
  • Kentucky
  • Centro Cristo Compañero
  • Massachusetts
  • Massachusetts
  • Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
  • Refugee Immigrant Assistance Center

Maryland

  • Jewish Community Services
  • Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity

Michigan

  • American Syrian Arab Cultural Association
  • Bethany Christian Services
  • Promoter of Justice: Dominican Sisters-
  • Grand Rapids

Missouri

  • Della Lamb Community Services (Kansas City)
  • International Institute of St Louis

Nebraska

  • Lutheran Family Services

Nevada

  • ECDC African Community Center

New York

  • African Services Committee
  • Catholic
  • Family Center
  • Justice Committee of Sisters of St. Joseph (Brentwood)
  • Sisters of Charity of New York
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph (Brentwood)
  • The Syria Campaign

New Jersey

  • Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth Leadership Team

New Mexico

  • Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains

North Carolina

  • Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, Inc.
  • NC African Services Coalition