DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Juan Vargas
Sent By: aaron.allen@mail.house.gov
Date: 11/30/2015

Support An Increase In Appropriations Funding For Refugee-Related Accounts
Extended Deadline: COB December 1st, 2015

Endorsed by: American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Center for Applied Linguistics; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries; Christian Reformed Church in North America; Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness; Church World Service; Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach; Franciscan Action Network; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Human Rights First; Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service; Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office; NAFSA: Association of International Educators; National Council of Jewish Women; NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby; OneAmerica; Oxfam America; Refugee Solidarity Network; Southeast Asia Resource Action Center; Syria Relief and Development; Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; USAction; International Rescue Committee; Pax Christi International; United for Peace and Justice; United to End Genocide; U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants; Union for Reform Judaism; HIAS; and Pax Christi USA

Current Cosigners: Earl Blumenauer, André Carson, Steven Cohen, Gerald Connolly, Joe Courtney, Judy Chu, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Joe Crowley, Lloyd Doggett, Keith Ellison, Anna Eshoo, Luis Gutierrez, Janice Hahn, Alcee Hastings, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mike Honda, Sheila Jackson Lee, Joe Kennedy, Ron Kind, James Langevin, Brenda Lawrence, Barbara Lee, Sandy Levin, Alan Lowenthal, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton, Gwen Moore, Grace F. Napolitano, Beto O’Rourke, Frank Pallone, Jared Polis, Mark Pocan, Charles B. Rangel, Bobby L. Rush, Tim Ryan, Adam Schiff, Louis M. Slaughter, Adam Smith, and Paul D. Tonko

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in supporting an increase in funding for refugee-related accounts for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. On September 20, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the refugee ceiling for FY 2016 would increase to 85,000 from the standard worldwide refugee ceiling of 70,000.  This would include at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the United States. From October 1, 2010, through August 31, 2015, the United States has admitted only 1,494 Syrian refugees, of which 1,300 of that total arrived after October 1, 2014.

As our international partners and state and local stakeholders begin to prepare for the increase in refugee resettlement, we must provide the adequate resources for long-term transitional assistance. The Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations have recently introduced the bipartisan The Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. We are calling on their counterparts in the House to complement their efforts as we move forward in the appropriations process. As you know, the background checks required of refugees to the United States are the strictest and most rigorous of any visitor to this country and require substantial resources, not to mention the actual costs of resettlement. Therefore, we are requesting a substantial increase into the following accounts to meet the needs of the Administration’s request:

• The U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance Account

• The Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Accounts

• The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee and Entrant Assistance Account

• The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate Account

The Syrian refugee crisis is the “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era” with over 4 million Syrian refugees and 8 million internally displaced Syrians. It is both our moral and legal imperative that we continue to strengthen our commitment to protecting refugees and other vulnerable populations. If your boss is interested in cosigning the letter below, please contact Aaron Allen ataaron.allen@mail.house.gov by COB on December 1st, 2015.

Sincerely,

JUAN VARGAS
Member of Congress

DAVID N. CICILLINE
Member of Congress

BILL PASCRELL, JR.
Member of Congress

December XX, 2015

The Honorable Harold Rogers
Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations
H-305, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey
Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

As you work to appropriate Fiscal Year 2016 funds beyond the current Continuing Resolution that runs through December 11, 2015, we respectfully ask that you provide sufficient funding to meet the needs of refugee assistance and resettlement   programs.

As you know, 60 million people are displaced around the world, the largest number since World War II. The plight of more than 4 million Syrian refugees and 8 million internally displaced Syrians has compelled the United Nations to describe the Syrian refugee crisis as “the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era”, highlighting the urgent and immediate need for action.. While additional funds will not solve this crisis alone, they will go a long way to help refugees and displaced persons abroad, as well as to support refugees resettled in the United States. There is bipartisan support for increasing such funds, as evidenced by The Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act recently introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Additionally, in order to properly secure the safety of the American people, we must ensure that as the United States accepts more refugees—including Syrians—we do so only after subjecting them to the most rigorous screening and security vetting of any category of traveler to the United States. Currently, it takes between 18 and 24 months for each individual, over 75% of whom are women and children, to enter the US. The current process for Syrian refugees to enter the country is extensive, and increasing funding would speed up the process and ensure the highest security measures are upheld.

Historically, the United States has recognized its moral and legal imperative to lead by example in addressing global issues such as refugee resettlement. That is why our nation is the largest resettlement country in the world, taking in almost 70 percent of all refugees resettled by the UNHCR globally last year.  Recently, the Obama Administration announced an increase in refugee admissions, from 70,000 last fiscal year, to 85,000 in FY2016 and 100,000 in FY2017. It is critical that adequate funding is provided so that local communities have the resources they need to help refugees integrate and thrive.

We ask that you substantially increase funds to meet the Administration’s need for the following refugee-related accounts:

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance account responds to the growing numbers of internally displaced persons, particularly in Syria and Iraq, and to supports refugee hosting countries and promote regional stability.

The Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance accounts assist refugees abroad and identify, process and provide initial integration assistance to refugees resettled in the United States.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee and Entrant Assistance accountensures local communities have the resources they need to help refugees integrate and thrive as they rebuild their lives.

The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate account to more expeditiously screen refugees for resettlement to the United States, a process that is currently fee-funded and in need of additional capacity.

As the United States encourages other countries to strengthen their commitments to refugee protection, the world is watching how the United States responds to the situation in Syria. As Congress makes funding decisions for FY16 and beyond, it is critical that our humanitarian and foreign policy priorities align with how we allocate our budgetary resources.

We deeply appreciate the work of the appropriations committee, and we respectfully encourage you to increase funding for these life-saving accounts so that the United States can demonstrate leadership in response to the global refugee crisis and the plight of Syrian refugees. Thank you for your consideration of this request.