ADL to Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest: Do Not Cut Funding for Refugee Resettlement

September 27, 2016

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Ranking Member
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Chairman Sessions and Ranking Member Schumer:

We write to provide the views of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in advance of the September 28 Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest hearing on “Oversight of the Administration’s FY 2017 Refugee Resettlement Program,” and ask that this statement be included as part of the official hearings record.  

With more than 65 million refugees forcibly displaced from their homes, the world today faces the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Terror attacks this year, like those perpetrated in Germany, Istanbul, and France, have raised fear and outrage at the murderous premeditated assaults not just on their victims, but on the sense of safety and liberty of people around the world. The United States must not, however, give in to fear or bias by turning its back on our nation’s proud history as a beacon of hope for people around the world and its fundamental commitment to refugee protection and human rights. Refugees are perhaps the most vulnerable victims of terror, fleeing the same brutality we fear. Now is precisely the time to stand up for our core values.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all, represents a community that has experienced the plight of living as refugees throughout its history.  The Jewish community has benefited when America lived up to its ideals as a haven for victims of persecution and we have felt the pain and loss when our government tragically failed those ideals.  ADL has advocated for fair and humane refugee policy since its founding and has been a leader in exposing anti-immigrant and anti-refugee hate that has poisoned our nation’s debate. From Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees fleeing a brutal communist regime in the 1970s, to Jewish and other religious minorities fleeing the Soviet Union, to the wave of Haitian refugees arriving on our shores in the early 1980s, ADL has advocated for the U.S. and other countries to open their doors to those fleeing war, genocide, and persecution.

Our country has a long history of welcoming people fleeing persecution and violence and helping them build new lives. After two historic refugee summits organized by the United Nations General Assembly and the U.S. this month, it is critical for the U.S. to demonstrate bold leadership on refugee protection. The U.S. has committed to increasing the number of refugees to be resettled here in 2017, and helping refugees resettle and integrate into our American fabric seamlessly requires adequate funding.   

ADL works to ensure that the U.S. uses every available tool to counter and prevent terror, and our country must not allow fear to govern U.S. policy or culture. The possibility of future terrorist attacks of course raises fear and anxiety, but America has put up the highest hurdles in the world for refugees seeking entry. Refugees must pass difficult and thorough screenings by the U.S. Department of State, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, international intelligence agencies, and the United Nations. The U.S. not only ensures its own security through the most enhanced screening process to enter our country, but also by focusing on admitting the most vulnerable, including female heads-of-households, children, survivors of torture, and people suffering from severe illnesses. We strongly support America’s refugee program as an asset to both America’s humanitarian and security interests.

At this critical moment, we must protect refugees and asylum seekers, not scapegoat them. This is not an either/or situation: The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also ensuring national security. We can and must do both.

Now is the time to stand up for precisely the values terrorists are seeking to attack and support meaningful legislation that honors our longstanding tradition of serving as a beacon of hope for refugees. Proposed funding cuts currently in Congress would turn our backs on the refugees we have pledged to welcome, damage vital integration efforts, and negatively impact communities that welcome refugees. ADL supports a strong refugee program and opposes any legislative proposals that aim to halt U.S. resettlement efforts or restrict funding for any groups of refugees, including Syrian refugees. Adequate funding is critical for local communities to help refugees integrate and thrive as they rebuild their lives.  As a nation with a long legacy of welcoming refugees, it is critical that we have the best and most secure procedures and tools for helping the world's most vulnerable victims of violence.

We appreciate the opportunity to provide our views on this issue of high priority to our organization. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide additional information or if we can be of assistance in any way.