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Home / Press Release / National Security Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Proposals to Halt the Resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi Refugees in the United States
December 01, 2015

National Security Leaders Call on Congress to Reject Proposals to Halt the Resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi Refugees in the United States

Washington, D.C. – A bipartisan group of twenty of the nation’s top national security experts, former government officials, and former military leaders today sent a letter to each Member of Congress expressing their opposition to proposals that would effectively halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

“The process that refugees undergo in order to be deemed eligible for resettlement in the United States is robust and thorough. They are vetted more intensively than any other category of traveler,” wrote the national security leaders. “We believe that America can and should continue to provide refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution without compromising the security and safety of our nation. To do otherwise would be contrary to our nation’s traditions of openness and inclusivity, and would undermine our core objective of combating terrorism.”

Signatories of today's letter include:

  • Madeleine K. Albright, Former Secretary of State
  • Samuel R. Berger, Former National Security Advisor
  • Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor
  • General George W. Casey, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
  • Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary of Homeland Security
  • William S. Cohen, Former Secretary of Defense
  • Stephen J. Hadley, Former National Security Advisor
  • Chuck Hagel, Former Secretary of Defense
  • General Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • General James L. Jones, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), Former National Security Advisor, Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Former Commandant of the Marine Corps
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Former Secretary of State, Former National Security Advisor
  • General Richard B. Myers, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Janet A. Napolitano, Former Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Leon E. Panetta, Former Secretary of Defense, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
  • General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.),
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency, Former Commander, U.S. Central Command
  • William J. Perry, Former Secretary of Defense
  • Brent Scowcroft, Former National Security Advisor
  • George P. Shultz, Former Secretary of State
  • Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Former Commander, U.S. Southern Command
  • General John W. Vessey, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

The national security leaders also expressed serious concern that these proposals would derail or further delay the resettlement of Iraqi refugees who have risked their lives to work with the U.S. military and other American organizations, stating that the United States has a moral obligation to protect them.

“Refugees are victims, not perpetrators, of terrorism. Categorically refusing to take them only feeds the narrative of ISIS that there is a war between Islam and the West, that Muslims are not welcome in the United States and Europe, and that the ISIS caliphate is their true home. We must make clear that the United States rejects this worldview by continuing to offer refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people, regardless of their religion or nationality,” concluded the national security leaders.

For more information press are encouraged to contact the signatories. For assistance contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or John Bagwell at John.Bagwell@crisisaction.org.