The Obama administration should be resettling vastly more Syrian refugees than it has planned to admit in the coming years, according to two Democratic lawmakers.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the administration is planning to admit at least 185,000 refugees over the next two years, including 10,000 Syrians in the first year.
In reaction, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security reiterated their call for more Syrian refugees.
“There are currently 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, 7.6 million internally displaced persons, and 4 million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries,” the pair said in a joint statement Wednesday. “They are fleeing a war waged by the brutal Syrian regime on one hand and the barbarism of ISIS on the other. For these refugees, safe haven in Europe, the United States, or other welcoming countries is their best and only hope.”
Earlier this month, the pair called for the U.S. to admit 200,000 refugees next year alone, including 100,000 Syrian refugees, they were joined in their call by 70 additional House Democrats.
While Democrats push for more Syrian refugees, Republicans are highlighting the national security risks associated with admitting thousands of individuals from terrorist hot spots — particularly when ISIS has indicated it seeks to use the refugee flow as a means of infiltrating the West.
Regardless of the risk, Conyers and Lofgren recalled past instances in which the U.S. has come to the aid of refugees fleeing violence, including the Vietnamese in the 1980s and Soviet refugees in the 1990s.
“Yet today, with more refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced persons than at any time since World War II, the need for an historic response has never been greater. Our commitment to resettle only 10,000 Syrian refugees falls short when weighed against our nation’s proud history protecting those fleeing violence and persecution,” the said.
The pair further called on Congress to support additional action as well as churches and private organizations. Concluding their statement Conyers and Lofgren invoked the Holocaust and rejection of the ship the St. Louis.
“Just over 75 years ago, a ship called the St. Louis, carrying nearly a thousand Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, sailed so close to the United States that passengers could see the city lights of Miami,” they recalled. “But rather than welcome these refugees, the United States turned them away. Many later died in concentration camps.”
“We should not repeat the mistake of rejecting those fleeing for their lives,” they added. “The United States has long been a symbol of freedom and hope for the World’s most vulnerable. In today’s global refugee crisis, we must now act boldly to fulfill that promise.”