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September 28, 2016

Refugee Veteran Urges Congress to Fund Administration’s Refugee Resettlement Goals

Washington, D.C.—In a statement for the record submitted today to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, Bosnian refugee and 20-year U.S. Marine Corps veteran Emir Hadzic called on Congress to support the Obama Administration’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 refugee resettlement plan, and to reject any proposed cuts to appropriations funding for refugee resettlement. Hadzic noted that failing to support resettlement efforts not only undermines American values, but damages vital U.S. national security interests. During today’s hearing, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) publicly recognized Hadzic’s statement, thanking him for his service to the United States.

“The security of the American people is paramount; I have made it my life’s duty. But it is shortsighted to levy security concerns on our refugee resettlement program, which ensures that every individual processed is one of the most vetted entrants to ever set foot on American soil,” Hadzic said in his written statement. “In fact, welcoming refugees does not weaken our collective security, it strengthens it.”

Congress is currently considering appropriations spending bills for FY 2017 that include drastic cuts to funding levels for refugee resettlement. Earlier this month the Obama Administration announced an increase to the target number of refugees to be resettled in the United States to at least 110,000 in FY 2017, up from 85,000 in 2016. Human Rights First urges Congress to fully fund the program in order to meet the administration’s goals, in keeping with the United States’ historic commitment to protecting the persecuted. The organization also notes that while the administration’s planned increase in refugee resettlement is a step in the right direction, the United States needs to continue to increase its resettlement and other efforts to address the global refugee crisis that is impacting key allies in the Middle East and Europe.

“If we are to effectively address the current crisis, the United States must lead,” said Human Rights First’s Jennifer Quigley. “We need the administration to continue to strengthen the capacity and timeliness of U.S. resettlement initiatives, and we need Congress to support those efforts.”

32 of the nation’s most prominent national security leaders, retired military leaders, and former government officials, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, CIA Director General Michael Hayden, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), affirmed in a June 2016 Statement of Principles, “The United States has long been a refuge for those seeking safety and freedom, and for a simple reason: Americans believe their compassion and openness are sources not of weakness but strength. The demonstration of these qualities accords with the core ideals on which our nation was founded, and on which our greatness rests.” 

National security experts have explained that U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees advances U.S. national security interests and would protect the stability of important U.S. allies in the region, as detailed in Human Rights First's February report, "The Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Need for U.S. Leadership." A December 2015 letter from a bipartisan group of 20 former U.S. national security advisors, CIA directors, secretaries of state, defense, and homeland security confirms this national security interest and that Syrian refugees are vetted more intensively than any other traveler to the United States.

To speak with Quigley about today’s hearing, please contact Christopher Plummer at [email protected] or 202-370-3310.