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Home / Press Release / Obama Administration's 2016 Refugee Resettlement Numbers Fail to Provide Global Leadership to Address Refugee Crisis
September 29, 2015

Obama Administration's 2016 Refugee Resettlement Numbers Fail to Provide Global Leadership to Address Refugee Crisis

New York City - In response to the Presidential Determination on Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 2016 released today, Human Rights First's Eleanor Acer issued the following statement:
"The administration's 2016 increase in refugee resettlement is much too low considering that we are facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II. The increase of only 15,000 refugees overall, with a commitment to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, falls far short of the kind of bold leadership that should be provided by the United States.  Not only is this minimal increase not nearly enough to meaningfully contribute to addressing the dire global need to provide refuge for the more than 4 million Syrians who have fled horrific violence in their home country, but it also is not the kind of leadership that will prompt other states to increase their commitments to take in more refugees. 
"Now, more than ever, the international community needs the United States to lead the global effort to address this refugee crisis. It is not only a moral imperative, but is of vital importance to the long term security and stability of the Middle East that the United States significantly step up its efforts to address this crisis.
"As the world leader in refugee resettlement, foreign governments look to the United States to set the precedent for responding to refugee protection needs. We urge the Obama Administration to lead by example by increasing its commitment to resettle at least 100,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, and to encourage other governments to follow suit by increasing their contributions to the crisis as well."
The presidential determination reflects the increase in the overall refugee ceiling from 70,000 to 85,000 for fiscal year 2016 that was announced by Secretary of State John Kerry early last week. The administration has indicated that this amount will include at least 10,000 Syrian refugees.  
Human Rights First continues to urge the administration to lead a comprehensive global initiative—in partnership with European and other states—to improve access to protection for refugees and asylum seekers. A key component of this initiative should include increased refugee resettlement so that refugees have safe routes to use to secure resettlement in other countries, as well as steps to better protect the human rights of migrants and refugees. This initiative to should include:  
  • Increased resettlement. The United States should encourage other resettlement states to increase their commitments to resettle Syrian refugees, and the United States should itself announce a commitment to resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. President Obama should increase the U.S. annual ceiling for refugee admissions from 70,000 to 200,000 in order to facilitate this major resettlement initiative.  
  • Meet the humanitarian assistance goal, and increase development assistance. The United States should ensure that the UN humanitarian appeal for Syria is fully funded by encouraging other states to increase their contributions to the appeal, and by significantly stepping up U.S. contributions for humanitarian and development assistance to the region. 
  • Redouble efforts to find effective multilateral solutions to the political and security crisis in Syria and to address the human rights abuses that are causing so many people to flee their homes and their countries in search of protection.  
  • Improve protection in neighboring states and globally. The United States should encourage states to allow refugees to work to support their families, to access education, and to respect obligations to protect refugees from arbitrary detention or return to persecution. All efforts to combat smuggling and trafficking should safeguard the human rights of refugees and migrants.
"As the United States moves ahead in this fiscal year, the president and Congress will need to closely monitor the resettlement process to ensure that delays and logjams are resolved. It will also be critical that they ensure that Syrian refugees with family in this country are brought to safety in the United States without delay," added Acer.
 For more information or to speak with Acer, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at [email protected] or 212-845-5269.