Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled “The Syrian Refugee Crisis.” Here at LIRS, we welcome the Judiciary Committee’s attention to the plight of Syrian refugees.
As the conflict in Syria continues to worsen, more than 2.3 million refugees, half of whom are children, have been forced to flee to neighboring countries. This year, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is seeking to resettle about 40,000 particularly vulnerable Syrian refugees. These individuals include women and girls at risk, survivors of torture and violence, and persons with serious medical needs or disabilities. I’m proud to say that LIRS and our national network stand ready to do what it takes to welcome the most at-risk Syrian refugees into U.S. communities.
Last year, although the United States brought 69,930 refugees from around the globe to safety, few were Syrian. At LIRS, we believe the United States should commit to resettling a higher number of vulnerable Syrian refugees. However, for such a commitment to be successful, greater attention must be paid to the processes of admission to the United States.
Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds is one admission process that particularly stands in the way of bringing Syrian refugees to safety. This legislation was enacted in 2001 by Congress and significantly broadens the definition of “terrorist activity,” encompassing some actions that have no real-life connection to terrorism. For example, it threatens to bar any Syrian refugee who supported “terrorist activity,” even if they were coerced or acted under duress.
Current law also threatens to exclude Syrians who fought with any armed opposition group in Syria or who provided “material support” to any opposition force, anyone who solicited funds or members for such a force, and even anyone whose spouse or parent is found to have done these things. These broad exclusions prevent the United States from providing welcome to bona fide refugees seeking safety. We encourage Congress to amend these problematic provisions.
Our advocacy team will be attending the hearing and live-tweeting the action. To keep up on the news, follow us at @LIRSorg. Beyond that, take action and speak your voice to Congress through our Action Center.