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HIAS Responds to Sec. Kerry’s Refugee Announcement

WASHINGTON—In response to Secretary Kerry’s announcement today that the United States would accept 85,000 refugees next year, HIAS CEO and President Mark Hetfield issued the following statement:

“We are dealing with a global humanitarian crisis to which the entire world must respond, and the U.S. must show leadership. Increasing the total number of refugees from 70,000 to 85,000 for next year and to 100,000 for the year after is a nice symbolic gesture. It is a baby step in the right direction. But it is not leadership. It falls far short of the needs and of what HIAS, Refugee Council USA, and 20 former officials senior officials have called for: accepting 100,000 Syrian refugees over and above the current refugee ceiling. With apologies to Neil Armstrong, Syrian refugees and the refugee hosting countries in the world need one giant leap from the United States, and instead they are getting one small step.

“If Germany can open its doors to 800,000 asylum seekers, the U.S., with a population four times the size of Germany's and a history as a nation of immigrants and refugees, we can take 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, on top of the 70,000 refugees fleeing other countries during this global refugee crisis, the largest since the World War II.

“Refugees are not a burden. The Syrian refugees that will join our communities have escaped terrible violence and persecution and are looking for a safe place to live, work, and raise their children. It’s no time for business as usual – the U.S. can and must find a way to offer safe haven to a meaningful number of Syrians who need it. This means changing the way the refugee process works, and restoring rescue to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program.”