WASHINGTON – Despite the repeated calls of refugees, faith leaders and community groups to oppose anti-refugee legislation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4038, the so-called “American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act.” If this legislation passes the Senate and becomes law, it would grind refugee resettlement to a halt for refugees from Syria and Iraq, including individuals who served alongside U.S. troops.
“Today, members of the House of Representatives betrayed our nation’s heritage as a country that has welcomed the oppressed,” CWS President and CEO, the Rev. John L. McCullough said. “We have a proud history of standing with the vulnerable and protecting the persecuted. This legislation fans the flames of bigotry and fear. Our faith calls us to welcome our refugee brothers and sisters, not to create barriers that prevent them from seeking safety.
“The screenings that all refugees go through before resettlement in the United States are extensive and comprehensive,” McCullough continued. “For political leaders to claim that this bill is necessary to protect Americans is utterly ludicrous. The U.S. refugee screening process is the most robust in the world, and refugees are the most vetted individuals to travel to the United States.
“Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the region are fleeing unimaginable violence from terrorist groups. So many have already overcome incredible obstacles. To deny them resettlement in the United States is un-American and incomprehensible. This vote does not represent our true values as a nation of immigrants and people of faith.
“At CWS, we pray that now the Senate will choose wisdom over rhetoric and show true leadership as we face a global refugee crisis by rejecting such legislation. Members of faith and refugee communities call on our elected officials to stand with the millions of Americans across the country who are ready and willing to welcome refugees into their homes, hearts and communities. We pray that they reject this hateful rhetoric and live up to our country’s legacy of welcome.”
Since 1946, Church World Service has supported refugees and other displaced individuals, in addition to providing sustainable relief and development solutions to communities that wrestle with hunger and poverty.