As Conflict Worsens, Cicilline Leads More Than 70 Colleagues Urging President Obama to Resettle More Syrian Refugees

Sep 11, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) today urged President Barack Obama to increase State Department quotas so the United States can admit at least 100,000 refugees from the ongoing conflict in Syria. 71 members of the House of Representatives joined Cicilline’s call today.

“The ongoing conflict in Syria has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times,” said Cicilline. “The United States has always stood as a beacon for those oppressed across the world, and it is critical that we do our part to assist in resettling Syrian refugees. I am proud that more than 70 members of the House of Representatives are standing with me to urge the administration to do more for those affected by the conflict in Syria.”

The United States has resettled fewer than 1,500 Syrian refugees since the start of the conflict four-and-a-half years ago. Lebanon has absorbed more than a million refugees, increasing their population by a quarter; Turkey has taken in more than 2 million; Jordan half a million. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has registered 3.8 million refugees from Syria, and 7.6 million internally displaced persons and there are likely many more who have not registered formally.

Jennifer Sime, Vice President for U.S. Programs at the International Rescue Committee said: “We have not seen a refugee crisis like this since World War 2. With the Syrian region at breaking point, and with the refugee crisis now engulfing Europe, what we need right now from the Administration is robust support for Syrian refugee resettlement to the United States. With the scope of the crisis and the urgency of humanitarian need, this means at least 100,000 people.”

The United States accepted hundreds of thousands of European refugees after the end of World War II, and following the fall of Saigon in 1975, it opened its doors to more than one million refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Accepting 100,000 Syrian refugees would add only 0.0003% to the United States population. In comparison, Lebanon’s population has grown 25% since the onset of the refugee crisis. While the Obama administration announced plans yesterday to accommodate at least 10,000 more Syrian refugees, many advocates believe this increase is insufficient given the enormity of the current humanitarian crisis.

“The United States has a long history of helping the world’s most vulnerable people, but we have also faltered when faced with difficult decisions to allow refugees into the country. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past,” Cicilline said. “It is our moral duty, as a nation founded on the principles of human dignity and freedom to do all that we can to respond to this humanitarian crisis and to assist people who are fleeing unspeakable violence.”

Click here to download the full text of Cicilline’s letter and a full list of co-signers.