Released November 13, 2015
FAN Statement to the House Judiciary Committee for its November 19, 2015 Hearing: The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Its Impact
Franciscan Action Network, with 50 institutional members and approximately 12,000 Franciscans across the United States, religious and lay men and women, primarily but not totally Catholic, urges an increase in resettlement of refugees in fiscal year 2016, especially for Syrian refugees fleeing from violent conflict. With over 60 million displaced people around the world, the United States resettled fewer than 70,000 refugees this past fiscal year. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans for our country to resettle 85,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016 and 100,000 in fiscal year 2017. This increase is very modest compared with the number of 650,000 displaced Europeans during World War II, and, following the fall of Saigon, annual resettlement numbers ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 during the 1980’s.
Resettlement security measures are integral to the United States program and the government continually fine-tunes the program to maximize domestic security. All refugees undergo rigorous security screenings. Through the Matching Grant program, 80 % of refugees find employment and become self-sufficient within six months, an impressive rate of integration which also involves learning a new language. Many refugees are highly skilled and educated. Resettlement saves lives and also helps to encourage other countries to provide for refugees within their borders.
As a faith based organization, FAN heeds the call of the Scriptures and our church leaders to welcome the stranger, especially families who are fleeing violence in their home countries. We have special concern for Syrian refugees, yet the United States has resettled only 1,700 refugees from Syria. We call on our government to admit 100,000 Syrian refugees over and above annual resettlement numbers. And we urge members of Congress to heed the message of Pope Francis when he visited our country, to put a human face on the numbers of refugees.