Washington, DC | www.adc.org | April 14, 2018 | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) calls on the Trump Administration to admit more Syrian refugees desperately seeking safe harbor. A day before Trump, joined by the UK and France, launched missile strikes in Syria, it was reported that the U.S. has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees this year. There are more than five million Syrian refugees.
In 2016, the U.S. resettled 15,479 Syrian refugees. In 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, the number of refugees was reduced by more than 80% to 3,024. That wasn’t surprising given Trump’s vocal hostility to Syrian refugees during the presidential campaign. This President is now expressing his concern for Syrians after a reported chemical attack. “We are very concerned,” Trump told reporters, “when a thing like [a chemical attack] can happen, this is about humanity.”
While the President speaks about humanity, his Administration is acting inhumanely by slamming the door shut on nearly every Syrian fleeing war and seeking safety. It is unconscionable that a great and wealthy nation, during the worst refugee crisis since WWII, has admitted only 11 Syrian refugees, which isn’t even close to being one refugee for every state in the union. If the President is truly concerned about defending the humanity of Syrian civilians, his most effective — and least costly — act would be to admit more refugees into the U.S. where they can find safety, reunite with families, and start new lives like countless refugees from Vietnam to Bosnia before them. A policy that justifies missile strikes on the need to protect civilians while refusing to admit those very same civilians defies logic and compassion.
Beyond admitting more refugees, the Administration needs to re-designate Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows nationals from designated countries to legally stay in the U.S. Earlier this year, the Administration extended TPS for approximately 7,000 Syrian beneficiaries, but by not re-designating TPS for Syria, Syrians fleeing violence and persecution will no longer be able to apply for protection. It is essential that TPS remains available for Syrians until peace is restored in their country. Lastly, the Administration has cut the cap on all refugees from 85,000 in 2016 to 45,000 today. The cap must be restored to its previous level to offer safety and comfort to refugees from around the world.
“I’ve seen refugees from Asia to Europe, Kosovo to Africa. I’ve never seen refugees as traumatized as coming out of Syria. It’s got to end,” those were the words of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday. The U.S. can do its part to end the refugee crisis by opening its arms to our brothers and sisters in Syria.