August 31, 2016
STATEMENT — Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service welcomes admission of 10,000th Syrian refugee, calls on Congress to uphold bipartisan U.S. humanitarian legacy in FY17 Continuing Resolution
WASHINGTON, DC – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the Obama administration for reaching its goal of admitting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. Yesterday, White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the milestone had been met – more than a month ahead of schedule – and reiterated President Obama’s commitment to “increase humanitarian assistance and create more long-term, durable opportunities for refugees – not just for the millions of Syrian refugees, but for those fleeing intense strife and persecution in all places.” LIRS is one of nine national organizations that have resettled Syrian refugees this year, in partnership with local organizations and congregations.
While a great achievement, it is pertinent to remember that we are still facing a major global crisis. Resettling 10,000 people is no small task, but it is just a drop in the bucket, as there are currently 4.9 million Syrian refugees and another 16.4 million from dozens of other countries around the world according to the UN refugee agency. The total number of Syrian refugees has steadily increased year after year since the conflict first started in 2011. If more action is not taken, we will see historic refugee numbers in 2017.
In keeping with the United States’ longstanding commitment to protect and assist the world’s most vulnerable people, including Syrian refugees, LIRS strongly urges Congress to return to work and provide adequate funding – commensurate with current needs – for critical U.S. refugee protection and resettlement programs in the FY17 Continuing Resolution. Republican and Democratic congresses alike have demonstrated that U.S. refugee assistance and resettlement uphold America’s tradition of assisting and protecting the most vulnerable, regardless of their religion or nationality.
“As people of faith, we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that the United States continues to provide moral leadership, welcome, and refuge for those fleeing for their lives LIRS stands ready to do its part to welcome refugees to the United States. Together we can continue to serve as a beacon of hope, dignity, and opportunity to the persecuted and oppressed worldwide,” said Linda Hartke, president and CEO of LIRS.
Founded in 1939, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service is the second largest refugee resettlement agency in the United States. It is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating with refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations. Through more than 75 years of service and advocacy, LIRS has helped over 500,000 migrants and refugees rebuild their lives in America.