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February 10, 2014

Republican Leaders Release Statement in Support of U.S. Commitment to Refugees

Washington, D.C. –   As Republican leaders in Congress work through the party’s immigration reform priorities, ten of the nation’s most prominent Republican leaders released a statement today that urges the party to recommit to upholding the United States’ position as an international leader in protecting refugees fleeing oppression and seeking asylum.   The statement is signed by former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez; former Florida Governor Jeb Bush;  former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge;  Kansas Governor Sam Brownback; former Senator Mel Martinez;  Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform;   Suhail A. Khan, chairman of the Conservative Inclusion Coalition; Jim Ziglar, former Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); Alberto Mora, former General Counsel of the Navy; and Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs .

“The United States has granted asylum and provided resettlement to thousands of refugees who have fled political, religious, ethnic, racial, and other persecution,” wrote the Republican leaders. “In some cases, they are people who stood with America, against tyranny, even when it was dangerous or unpopular in their own country.”

Today’s statement challenges American leaders to uphold the nation’s promise to oppressed people who yearn to live in freedom by expressing their commitment to the following principles:

  • Fair and enforceable immigration laws that reflect our national interests and uphold core American values;
  • Protection for refugees fleeing from persecution and elimination of unnecessary barriers and challenges that are preventing legitimate refugees from entering the country;
  • A fair and timely decision-making process for those seeking refuge; and
  • Implementation of the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The statement recalls the leading role the Republican Party has taken in these efforts:

“In his final presidential address to the American people, Ronald Reagan described the United States as a ‘shining city on a hill’ that is ‘still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home.’  The 2012 Republican National Platform reaffirmed our belief that American exceptionalism is best exemplified by our commitment to freedom and human dignity.  Our platform echoed President Reagan’s words by stating, ‘To those who stand in the darkness of tyranny, America has always been a beacon of hope, and so it must remain. That is why we strongly support the work of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, established by Congressional Republicans to advance the rights of persecuted peoples everywhere.’”

The signatories noted, “It should be obvious to all that our immigration system is in dire need of an overhaul,” adding, “We must have fair and enforceable immigration laws that reflect our national interest and uphold core American values and our history as a country committed to humane treatment and dignity of the individual.”

For more information, contact Corinne Duffy at DuffyC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3319.