Rep. Pascrell: U.S. Should Take Canada's Lead on Syrian Refugee Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), an advocate for expansion of the refugee program, led a letter with 37 colleagues urging President Barack Obama to discuss resetting refugees from around the globe with new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is visiting Washington, D.C. this week. Since November 2015, Canada has accepted over 25,000 refugees of the Syrian civil war, while the United States has accepted less than 3,000 refugees since 2011.
Text of letter is as follows:
March 7, 2016
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC, 20500
Dear President Obama,
With the expected arrival of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on March 10 for his first State Dinner, we urge you to discuss the important role our nations play in welcoming refugees fleeing persecution from around the globe, especially the over 4.5 million from Syria.
There are over 60 million people around the world displaced from their homes because of war, conflict, or persecution; and the United States must maintain its commitment to providing refuge for people in search of safety. However, despite the United States’ commitment to resettling additional refugees over the next two fiscal years, the United States has only resettled less than 3,000 Syrian refugees since 2011 when the conflict began. This is far less than Canada, which is has welcomed over 25,000 Syrian refugees over merely a few months.
As a global leader, Prime Minister Trudeau has shown his country’s commitment to welcoming Syrians fleeing persecution in unprecedented ways just as Canada has served as a global leader historically in welcoming Central American refugees. As a result, we believe this official visit serves as an important opportunity for you to discuss Canada’s commitment to the refugee crisis in Syria and its ability to resettle more refugees than the U.S. at such a swift rate; and identify ways that our countries can work together to strengthen our commitment to helping those fleeing persecution.
The international community has always relied on the United States to establish the precedent for responding to humanitarian crises like the one in Syria. It is time for our nation to lead by example and increase our commitment to the refugee crisis. While we remain concerned about potential abuse of our resettlement programs by certain actors, we are also concerned when we see a child laying lifeless in the water after trying to escape the violence in their home country; a family starving because food assistance has been rationed; or a refugee dying while waiting approximately two years to be screened and vetted.
It is not only a moral imperative, but it is of critical importance to our nation’s long term national security and stability in the Middle East that Syrian refugees are welcomed in the United States. We deeply appreciate your personal commitment and the Administration’s work to the global refugee crisis, but we believe more must be done. Thank you for your time attention to this request and we look forward to hearing about the outcome of your conversation with Prime Minister Trudeau.
Signatories include U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ 9th District), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd District), Michael E. Capuano (D-MA 7th District), Matt Cartwright (D-PA 17th District), Judy Chu (D-CA 27th District), David N. Cicilline (D-RI 1st District), Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9th District), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA 11th District), Debbie Dingell (D-MI 12th District), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX 35th District), Donna Edwards (D-MD 4th District), Keith Ellison (D-MN 5th District), Chaka Fattah (D-PA 2nd District), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ 3rd District), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL 4th District), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL 23rd District), Michael M. Honda (D-CA 17th District), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX 30th District), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH 9th District), William R. Keating (D-MA 9th District), Rick Larsen (D-WA 2nd District), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI 14th District), Barbara Lee (D-CA 13th District), John Lewis (D-GA 5th District), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA 33rd District), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY 18th District), Betty McCollum (DFL-MN 4th District), Jim McDermott (D-WA 7th District), James P. McGovern (D-MA 2nd District), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Washington D.C.), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ 6th District), Chellie Pingree (D-ME 1st District), Mark Pocan (D-WI 2nd District), Mike Quigley (D-IL 5th District), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District), Juan Vargas (D-CA 51st District), Marc Veasey (D-TX 33rd District).