Faith, National Security, Human Rights and Community Groups Call for Bold Leadership in Face of Refugee Crisis and Upcoming Summits

September 15, 2016

Washington, D.C. – As the world seeks solutions for the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, faith, national security, and community organizations are calling on the United States to show bold leadership in finding solutions to the refugee crisis. As the United Nations and President Obama will host summits to discuss the crisis next week, over 300,000 people have shown their support for refugees through postcard and petition campaigns, including more than 15,000 electronic postcards sent by Catholic networks.

This morning, Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) and Congressman Juan Vargas, CA-51 joined national faith, security and community leaders on to urge President Obama and Congressional leadership to lead by example in supporting bold solutions to the refugee crisis. The leaders delivered more than 10,000 postcards – a sampling of the more than 300,000 postcards and petitions that have been signed in support of refugees – to Congressional leadership and offices. The postcards urge the U.S. government to admit more refugees and to increase funding that supports welcoming communities and helps refugees integrate and thrive in their new homes.

Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09): “Refugees have the same common set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams we all share. They want to come here to work hard, seeking a better life and future for their children. Regardless of where they come from or what they believe, we must live up to our moral obligation by extending our hand to those seeking refuge, especially for the world’s largest population of refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Syria.”

Congressman Juan Vargas (CA-51): “Our legacy as a global humanitarian leader has always included supporting the world’s most vulnerable populations through critical services both here and abroad. I remain deeply committed to working with faith organizations, nonprofits and governments around the world to find bold and sustainable solutions to the current refugee crisis. We must do more to provide relief to the millions of people under the threat of unspeakable violence.”

Dr. James Zogby, Arab American Institute President: “America has a long tradition of welcoming the tired, the poor, and those yearning to be free. And we have provided refuge for those fleeing violence. It dishonors that legacy to close the door to Syrians, Iraqis, Sudanese and others because of their ethnicity or religion.”

Scott Arbeiter, President, World Relief: “At a time when there is much debate about whether the US should resettle refugees, churches are stepping up to welcome refugees with tangible expressions of love and compassion. We have seen an increasing number of volunteers building relationships with refugees, as we’ve partnered with 1,182 congregations in the past year to welcome refugees in over 27 different communities. These churches are driven by their faith and also Biblical teachings to welcome the stranger, and we are so encouraged churches are leading the way. We hope that the Summit next week will be an opportunity for the United States to take tangible steps to protecting refugees in a way that affirms their dignity and recognizes that communities all across the United States stand ready to assist.”

Kathy Hertz, Executive Director, D.C. Rally 4 Refugees: “The US is a nation of immigrants, it is who we are at our core, a nation of pioneers who came to this country in search of freedom. To turn our backs on those seeking lives free of war and terror for themselves and their children, rips the heart out of who we are as a nation.  We become fundamentally different people if this is the choice we make. The US must continue in its role as a beacon of freedom and hope for those who have risked all in the search for safety.  We can easily resettle many more well-vetted refugees in this country,  remain safe and stay true to our ideals as a nation.”

Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Refugee & Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): “Nearly every time I am with a faith community around the country, I am greeted with stories from Americans whose lives have been deeply enriched and inspired by the strength of refugees who now live among them as neighbors.  In my living and working among refugees myself, I have seen constant displays of determination, resiliency, commitment to family, and a hope in the future—which are both strong American values and values of my Christian faith tradition, as well.  In this moment, our world stands at a precipice in great need of such values.  I pray deeply for America’s key Congressional leaders, and the President, to demonstrate a vision of compassionate humanitarian response, commitment to education and employment, and openness for generous resettlement of vulnerable refugees.  With this leadership now, we will call forth the nations of the world to respond, as well.   And in so doing, we likewise witness to God’s love that provides ‘refuge to the oppressed’ (Ps. 9:9),  ‘loves the sojourner’ (Dt. 10:18),  and ‘lifts…from the ash heap’ (1 Sa. 2:8) the needy whose homes and lives have been destroyed.”

Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, VA: “As Jews, we have a sacred obligation to welcome the stranger in our midst. Many of us have not-so-distant family history of seeking asylum and refuge in the United States. We call on Congress and the President to respond to the refugee crisis in a way that matches the scope of the challenge. The US can demonstrate global leadership by significantly increasing Syrian refugee resettlement.”

Jason Gorey, COO, No One Left Behind: “My organization –  No One Left Behind – is dedicated to saving and supporting America’s wartime allies. Our local national allies risk their lives in support of America and my brothers and sisters in the military, and it is incumbent upon our leaders to ensure we protect these heroes with visas and support to create new lives in America.”

Farah Marcolla, Iraqi refugee: “I am so grateful to be part of the American society and experience. After long history of supporting the U.S mission in Iraq and the dramatic tragedies happening to my loved ones, I had the chance to move to United  States. Living  in peace and starting a new life with my two  boys is a great feeling. I believe everyone should have the right to feel safe and live in peace so the world will be balanced and humanity continue.”

Media Contacts:

Megan Cagle

Christina Levin