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HIAS Urges Senate to Pose Tough Questions at Confirmation Hearings

WASHINGTON—HIAS, the global Jewish nonprofit that protects refugees, is urging senators to carefully consider how President-Elect Trump’s nominees for the next attorney general, secretary of state, and secretary of homeland security will treat refugees and immigrants before voting to confirm them. Given the importance of their positions for U.S. policy toward refugees and asylum seekers, it is essential that senators demand answers before deciding whether or not they will be able to perform these roles effectively.

“As we face the largest refugee crisis since World War II, we need leaders who will uphold America’s proud legacy of protecting and welcoming refugees and who will respect the rights of everyone in America, including refugees and immigrants,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS vice president for policy and advocacy.

HIAS is concerned about the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General.

“Sessions has been a consistent anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, and anti-Muslim voice in Congress for 20 years. His strong ties to anti-immigration organizations are disconcerting and he has led congressional efforts to oppose bipartisan immigration reform legislation, important protections for refugees and asylum seekers, and international assistance for refugees and others desperate for help,” said Nezer.

As Congress begins confirmation hearings this week, HIAS encourages senators to demand answers from the nominees about how in their respective roles they will address the global refugee crisis. The nominees for secretary of state and secretary of homeland security, Rex Tillerson and General John F. Kelly, would also play key roles in implementing U.S. refugee policy if confirmed.

“We hope Mr. Tillerson will explain how he plans to maintain and strengthen the United States’ leadership role in refugee resettlement and protection,” Nezer said. “Given the growing humanitarian crises in the Middle East and closer to home in Central America, the new secretary of state must support refugee resettlement and international assistance for displaced populations. We look forward to hearing how Gen. Kelly and Sen. Sessions would ensure due process, fairness, and compassion while enforcing U.S. immigration law.”

“It is critical for our government leaders to maintain U.S. leadership in protecting refugees and ensure due process for those who seek safety in the U.S. Anything less would be contrary to American and Jewish values and a betrayal of our history.” 

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