Liberal Groups Apply More Pressure to Increase Syrian Refugees to U.S.

Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis
Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis

A coalition of left-leaning, civil rights groups are calling on President Obama to take on significantly more Syrian refugees than his administration has already committed to accept in the coming two years.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and others argue the U.S. is currently losing the “moral high ground” to European and Middle Eastern countries ,which have taken in millions of refugees from the war-torn nation.

“Syria’s neighbors have demonstrated their willingness to bear more than their share of the burden of caring for Syrian refugees; for example, Lebanon has taken in one million refugees, Turkey has taken in two million, and Jordan has taken in half a million. Germany, providing important leadership to the European Union, has pledged to take in 800,000 refugees,” the coalition wrote in a letter to Obama released Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the Obama administration would be accepting up to 185,000 refugees in the next two years, with significant numbers coming from Syria.

The administration is going forward with the plan despite concerns about the vetting process and national security threat of importing high numbers of refugees from terrorist hot spots, raised by Republican lawmakers. Democratic lawmakers, like the civil rights groups, have called for the U.S. to accept high numbers of Syrian refugees.

The coalition of groups “strongly urge” Obama to go “go far beyond the goals” the administration has already set, pointing to recent calls for the U.S. to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees next year alone.

Acknowledging the logistical issues involved with resettling tens of thousands of refugees, the groups offered their support and aid as well as their assistance in confronting the political fallout.

“At the same time, we stand with you in the face of unconscionable political attacks upon these refugees and their religious and ethnic background, which are being thrown about as the next election cycle draws nearer and as some candidates say whatever they feel must be said to appeal to their base voters,” the letter reads.

“It is incredibly easy for people to attack the legitimacy of refugees, when they themselves have the good fortune of living in a country they will never have to flee. But our national policies must be better than the rhetoric we hear from some corners,” it adds, concluding that the U.S. has a “moral imperative” to aid and “set a benchmark” for the rest of the globe.

The letter was signed by the heads of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Asian American Advancing Justice, Human Rights First, the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, and the National Partnership for Women and Families.


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