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Home / Press Release / On World Refugee Day National Security Leaders, Retired Military Leaders, and Former Government Leaders Pledge Support for Refugee Protection
June 20, 2016

On World Refugee Day National Security Leaders, Retired Military Leaders, and Former Government Leaders Pledge Support for Refugee Protection

Washington, D.C. - In honor of World Refugee Day, 28 of the nation's most prominent national security leaders, retired military leaders, and former government officials today publicly called on the United States to reaffirm its commitment to protecting refugees. The call came through a signed statement of principles organized by Human Rights First, affirming the importance of refugee resettlement for advancing U.S. national security interests and upholding American values. Signers of today's open statement organized by Human Rights First include: Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright; Former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff; Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator William S. Cohen; Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; Former Director of the CIA General Michael V. Hayden, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Michael E. Leiter; Former U.S. Senator Carl M. Levin; Former Commander of U.S. Army Europe General David M. Maddox, U.S. Army (Ret.); Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew G. Olsen; Former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry; Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.); Former Homeland Security Advisor Frances F. Townsend; and many others.
The world today is gripped by the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Some sixty million people - half of them children - have fled persecution and violence, the highest number ever recorded. From Syria to Burma to Eritrea, desperate people are seeking freedom from brutal regimes, lawless militias, and genocidal terrorist groups. Thousands have died trying to find safety and millions are struggling to survive.
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. For more than two centuries, the idea of America has pulled toward our shores those seeking liberty, and it has ensured that they arrive in the open arms of our citizens. That is why the Statue of Liberty welcomes the world’s “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and why President Reagan stressed the United States as “a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness.”
Today there are many hurtling through that darkness.
Yet despite America’s role as the global leader in resettling refugees, many voices call for closed doors rather than open arms. To give in to such impulses would represent a mistake of historic proportions. Now is the time for the United States to reaffirm its commitment to protecting refugees.
Americans are rightly concerned not only for the security of refugees but their own as well. For this reason, refugees are vetted more thoroughly than any other category of traveler seeking to arrive in the United States. The security process includes screenings by national and international intelligence agencies, fingerprint and other biometric data checks against terrorist and criminal databases, and multiple rounds of interviews.
As we ensure the safety of our own citizens, we should recognize that refugees serve as a source of national renewal. Fleeing horrors today, they will tomorrow emerge as patriotic citizens who give back to the country that welcomed them in their time of desperation. And accepting refugees demonstrates, at a time when it is so sorely needed, that America leads the world in marching toward a better future.
We believe:
  • The United States should provide refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution, consistent with our nation’s founding ideals.
  • Accepting refugees, and encouraging other countries to do so, advances U.S. interests by supporting the stability of our allies struggling to host large numbers on their own.
  • Welcoming refugees, regardless of their religion or race, exposes the falseness of terrorist propaganda and counters the warped vision of extremists.
  • The United States must not abandon those targeted by terrorists because they worked with American troops and diplomats in support of our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Religious bans and tests are un-American and have no place in our immigration and refugee policies.
  • American leadership is essential in addressing the global refugee crisis.
Sincerely,
(Names in alphabetical order)
Madeleine K. Albright
Former Secretary of State
Stephen J. Hadley
Former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush
Leon E. Panetta
Former Secretary of Defense and Director, Central Intelligence Agency
William J. Burns
Former Deputy Secretary of State
Chuck Hagel
Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator
William J. Perry
Former Secretary of Defense
Michael Chertoff
Former Secretary of Homeland Security
General Michael V. Hayden,
U.S. Air Force, (Ret.)
Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency
Thomas R. Pickering
Former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
Derek Chollet
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs
Fred C. Hof
Former U.S. Ambassador & Special Advisor for transition in Syria
Kori N. Schake
Former Deputy Director for Policy Planning, U.S. State Department
Henry Cisneros
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Robert Kagan
Co-Founder, Project for the New American Century
Randy Scheunemann
Former Director, Project for the New American Century
William S. Cohen
Former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator
David J. Kramer
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Eric Schwartz
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
Ryan C. Crocker
Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and Lebanon
Mark Lagon
President, Freedom House
Former Ambassador at Large, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
John Shattuck
Former Assistance Secretary of State for Democracy, Human
Rights, and Labor and U.S. Ambassador to Czech Republic
Tom Daschle
Former U.S. Senator
Michael E. Leiter
Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center
Admiral James G. Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
Former Commander, U.S. Southern Command
Michele A. Flournoy
Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Carl M. Levin
Former U.S. Senator
Frances F. Townsend
Former Homeland Security Advisor to President George W. Bush
Richard Fontaine
President, Center for a New American Security
General David M. Maddox, U.S. Army (Ret.)
Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Army Europe
Paul D. Wolfowitz
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense
Robert S. Ford
Former Ambassador to Syria and Algeria
Matthew G. Olsen
Former Director, National Counterterrorism Center
 

 

For more information contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.