500+ national and local organizations sign letter to the Senate in support of Syrian refugees and opposing HR4038

January 19, 2016

January 19, 2016

Dear Senator:

As refugee and immigration law experts, humanitarian aid organizations, faith, labor and civil and human rights groups, we write to express our support for the U.S. refugee resettlement program and opposition to legislation that would stop, pause or defund the resettlement of Syrian refugees.  We urge you to oppose the American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015 (H.R. 4038).  The world is witnessing the largest refugee crisis since World War II.  More than 4 million Syrians have fled from their home country fleeing conflict and violence, and 6.5 million are displaced internally.

At a time when the world needs humanitarian leadership, some are now calling for the suspension of the U.S. refugee resettlement program or the imposition of restrictions on funding for Syrians and other groups of refugees. We oppose these proposals and believe they would jeopardize the United States’ moral leadership in the world.

Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror that unfolded on the streets of Paris. They have suffered violence just like this for almost five years. Most have lost loved ones to persecution and violence, in addition to having had their country, their community, and everything they own brutally taken from them.

Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies. Department of Homeland Security officials interview each refugee to determine whether they meet the refugee definition and whether they are admissible to the United States. Refugees undergo a series of biometric and investigatory background checks, including collection and analysis of personal data, fingerprints, photographs, and other background information, all of which is checked against government databases.  The entire process typically takes more than two years and often much more before the refugee would arrive in the U.S.  In addition the Administration is already taking steps, with its existing authority, to increase the capacity of its security and screening procedures for refugees.  There is no need for Congress to impose additional restrictions or security measures.

The United States decides which refugees to resettle.  Because so few refugees in the world are resettled, the U.S. often chooses the most vulnerable, including refugees who cannot remain safely where they are and families with children who cannot receive the medical care they need to survive.

To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation’s core values.  It would send a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion.  This feeds into extremist propaganda and makes us all less safe. We call upon Congress to demonstrate leadership by speaking out against the scapegoating of any group during this time of crisis and to ensure that our nation’s humanitarian efforts are robust.

The United States is a welcoming country with a diverse society and our resettlement program must continue to reflect this.

We can welcome refugees while ensuring our own security. Refugees have enriched communities across our country and have been part of the American fabric for generations. Historically our nation has responded to every major war or conflict and has resettled refugees from Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. Closing the door to refugees would be disastrous for not only the refugees themselves, but their family members in the United States who are waiting for them to arrive, and our reputation in the world.


National Organizations

  • Adrian Dominican Sisters
  • The Advocates for Human Rights
  • Alliance for a Just Society
  • Alliance for Citizenship
  • Alliance of Baptists
  • Ameinu (Our People)
  • America’s Voice Education Fund
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
  • American Hindu World Service (AHWS)
  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • American Jewish Committee (AJC)
  • American Refugee Committee
  • American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • America’s Voice Education Fund
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
  • Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
  • Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies
  • Asylum Access
  • Auburn Theological Seminary
  • Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
  • Bethany Christian Services
  • Catholic Charities USA
  • Center for Applied Linguistics
  • Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
  • Center for Justice and Accountability
  • Center for New Community
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.
  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee & Immigration Ministries
  • The Christian Reformed Church in North America
  • The Church of the Brethren
  • Church World Service
  • CODEPINK: Women for Peace
  • Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
  • Columbia Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic
  • Community of Sant’Egidio USA
  • Concern Worldwide (US) Inc.
  • Conference of Major Superiors of Men
  • Congregation of St. Joseph
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Courage Campaign
  • Dominican Sisters of Hope
  • The Episcopal Church
  • Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
  • Faiths for Safe Water
  • Farmworker Justice
  • Food for the Hungry
  • Franciscan Action Network
  • Franciscan Federation of the Third Order Regular Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis
  • Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Gamaliel
  • GLAD Alliance
  • Habonim Dror North America
  • Handicap International
  • HealthRight International
  • HIAS
  • Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, JPIC – USA
  • Human Rights First
  • Ignatian Solidarity Network
  • InterAction
  • International Assoc. of Jewish Vocational Services
  • International Catholic Migration Commission
  • International Refugee Assistance Project
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute (ICAE)
  • J Street
  • Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States
  • Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, National Advocacy Office
  • Jesuit Refugee Service/USA
  • Jesuits Midwest
  • Jewish Council for Public Affairs
  • Jewish Labor Committee
  • Just Foreign Policy
  • Justice for Our Neighbors
  • Jewish Women International
  • Kids In Need of Defense (KIND)
  • Ladies of Charity of the United States of America
  • Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  • Leadership Team of the Felician Sisters of North America
  • League of United Latin American Citizens
  • Little Sisters of the Assumption
  • Little Sisters of the Assumption Family in Mission
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  • MECCA Institute
  • Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
  • Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
  • Mi Familia Vota
  • Muslim Public Affairs Council
  • NAFSA: Association of International Educators
  • National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  • Nationa
    l Asian Pacific American Bar Association
  • National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
  • National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association
  • National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP)
  • National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA)
  • National Council of Churches, USA
  • National Council of Jewish Women
  • National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • National Education Association
  • National Employment Law Project
  • National Immigrant Justice Center
  • National Immigration Forum
  • National Immigration Law Center
  • National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
  • National Latin@ Network: Casa de Esperanza
  • National Korean American Service and Education Consortium
  • National Network for Arab American Communities
  • National Network to End Domestic Violence
  • National People’s Action
  • National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
  • National Religious Campaign Against Torture
  • NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
  • Niswa Association, Incorporated
  • OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
  • Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
  • ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration
  • Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters
  • Oxfam America
  • Partnership for Global Justice
  • Partnerships for Trauma Recovery
  • Peace Action West
  • People for the American Way
  • Positive American-Islamic Relations
  • Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Reconciling Ministries Network
  • Refugee Solidarity Network
  • Refugees International
  • RefugePoint
  • Relief International
  • Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ)
  • Save the Children
  • Scalabrini International Migration Network – SIMN
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame AM Province JPIC Office
  • School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province
  • Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill
  • Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Institute Leadership Team
  • Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross
  • Sisters of Mercy, New York, Pennsylvania, Pacific West Community
  • Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace Leadership Team Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Society of the Sacred Heart, United States-Canada Province
  • South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
  • Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC)
  • Southern Border Communities Coalition
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Spanish Education for Women
  • St. Mary di Rosa Academies
  • STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
  • SustainUS: U.S. Youth for Justice
  • Swasia Charity Foundation
  • Syria Relief and Development
  • Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
  • T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
  • Tahirih Justice Center
  • UNANIMA International
  • Union for Reform Judaism
  • Unitarian Universalist Association
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Farm Workers
  • United for a Free Syria (UFS)
  • United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  • United to End Genocide
  • United We Dream
  • Universal Muslim Association of America
  • Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus
  • USAction
  • UU College of Social Justice
  • UURISE – Unitarian Universalist Refugee and Immigrant Services and Education, Inc.
  • Voices for Progress
  • Voto Latino
  • We Belong Together
  • Welcoming America
  • William M. & Miriam F. Meehan Foundation
  • Win Without War
  • Women of Reform Judaism
  • Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER)
  • Women’s Refugee Commission
  • Workmen’s Circle
  • World Relief
  • World Renew


  • Catholic Social Services


  • International Rescue Committee – Glendale
  • International Rescue Committee – Tucson
  • Refugee Focus- A Division of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest


  • Arkansas Interfaith Alliance


  • Alliance for African Assistance
  • Armenian Relief Society of Western USA, Social Services
  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • Asian Americans for Community Involvement
  • Asian Law Alliance
  • Behavioral Health Board of Santa Clara County
  • Catholic Charities / First 5 Family Resource Center
  • Catholic Charities of Los Angeles
  • Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County
  • Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County – Refugee Foster Care
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa
  • Catholic Diocese of San Jose
  • Center for Employment Training Immigration and Citizenship Program
  • CLUE: Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
  • Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST)
  • Community Lawyers, Inc.
  • Community Health for Asian Americans
  • Diversity in Health Training Institute
  • Employee Rights Center
  • Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles
  • factr – Family Alliance for Counseling Tools and Resolution
  • First Congregational Church of Palo Alto, UCC
  • Friends of Friendship Park
  • Home-Start, Inc.
  • Interfaith Refugee and Immigration Service
  • International Institute of L.A.
  • International Institute of the Bay Area
  • International Rescue Committee – Los Angeles
  • International Rescue Committee – Northern California
  • International Rescue Committee – San Diego
  • Japanese American Citizens League – Silicon Valley Chapter
  • Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay
  • Jewish Family Service of San Diego
  • Karen Organization of San Diego
  • Korean Resource Center
  • La Maestra Community Health Centers
  • Leichtag Foundation
  • MAIZ Movimiento de Accion Inspirando Servicio
  • Nile Sisters Development Initiative
  • North County Immigration Task Force
  • Northwest Forest Worker Center
  • Oakland Unified School District Refugee & Asylee Program
  • Opening Doors, Inc.
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
  • Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment
  • Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans
  • Pilgrim United Church of Christ
  • Program for Torture Victims
  • Refugee Forum of Orange County
  • Refugee Transitions
  • SDS Hope House
  • San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium
  • Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network (SIREN)
  • Somali Family Service of San Diego
  • Somos Mayfair
  • Spark Church
  • Survivors of Torture, International
  • United Taxi Workers of San Diego
  • UURISE – Unitarian Universalist Refugee & Immigrant Services & Education
  • World Relief Garden Grove


  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • ECDC/African Community Center


  • Connecticut Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame USA Peace and Justice Office
  • International Institute of Connecticut
  • Iris – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of New Haven
  • Khmer Health Advocates
  • Noank Baptist Church
  • Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry of the Archdiocese of Hartford
  • Wilton Interfaith Action Committee


  • Catholic Charities of Cent
    ral Florida
  • Catholic Charities Bureau Inc.
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Palm Beach
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami
  • Coptic Orthodox Charities, Inc.
  • Church World Service – Palm Beach
  • Church World Service – South Florida
  • Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services
  • International Rescue Committee – Miami
  • Metropolitan Community Churches
  • Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, Inc.
  • World Relief Jacksonville
  • Youth Co-Op, Inc.


  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta
  • Catholic Charities of South Georgia
  • Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS)
  • Culture Connect, Inc.
  • Friends of Refugees, Inc.
  • Global Village Project
  • International Rescue Committee – Atlanta
  • Lutheran Services of Georgia
  • New American Pathways
  • The Refugee Women’s Network, Inc.


  • Agency for New Americans
  • Global Community Partners
  • Holy Trinity Anglican Church
  • International Rescue Committee – Boise
  • Oasis SDA Church
  • United Vision for Idaho


  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago
  • Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center
  • Korean American Resource and Cultural Center
  • Syrian Community Network
  • Women in Search of Peace


  • Exodus Refugee Immigration Inc.


  • Catholic Charities – Des Moines
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Davenport
  • Central Plains Mennonite Conference
  • Crossing Borders – Dubuque
  • Franciscan Peace Center


  • Episcopal Migration Ministries Wichita
  • Garden Valley Church
  • Grace Episcopal Church – Chanute
  • HealthCore Clinic, Inc.
  • Hesston Mennonite Church
  • International Rescue Committee – Garden City
  • International Rescue Committee – Wichita
  • International Students, Inc.
  • MCC Central States
  • Peace & Social Justice Committee of Rainbow Mennonite Church
  • Peace Committee of the Lorraine Avenue Mennonite Church
  • Shalom Mennonite Church
  • South Central Mennonite Conference
  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
  • St. John’s Episcopal Church
  • Zion Mennonite Church


  • Americana Community Center
  • Catholic Charities of Louisville
  • International Center of Kentucky
  • Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Lexington
  • Sarah’s Place Women’s Resource Center, Inc.


  • Maine Sister of Mercy Justice Committee


  • American Hindu World Service
  • Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus
  • St Camillus Catholic Church


  • Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights
  • Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Springfield
  • Community Legal Services and Counseling Center
  • The First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
  • International Institute of New England
  • Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action
  • Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
  • Jewish Family Service of Metrowest
  • Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts
  • JVS, Greater Boston
  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)


  • American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (Michigan Regional Office)
  • Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services (ACCESS)
  • Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan
  • Christ Community Church
  • Detroit Jews for Justice
  • Dominican Sisters – Grand Rapids
  • Foundation for Justice and Development (FJD)
  • Lutheran Social Services of Michigan
  • Michigan Immigrant Rights Center
  • Michigan Migrant Legal Assistance Project, Inc.
  • Michigan Muslim Community Council
  • The Muslim Unity Center
  • Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary
  • Syrian American Rescue Network (SARN)
  • University of Michigan International Policy Student Association
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – Detroit


  • African Immigrant Services (AIS)
  • Arrive Ministries
  • English Learning Center
  • Faith Mennonite Church
  • Guadalupe Alternative Programs
  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  • Jewish Community Action


  • Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma
  • International Institute of St. Louis
  • Jacob’s Well Church
  • Jewish Vocational Service
  • Mercy Professional Services
  • Saint Louis Mental Health Board


  • Bozeman Peace Seekers
  • Montana Women For…


  • Justice for Our Neighbors – Nebraska
  • Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc.
  • Nebraska Appleseed Center for Law in the Public Interest
  • Notre Dame Sisters Omaha Leadership
  • Schlegel Center for Service and Justice at Creighton University
  • Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community


  • Life, Peace & Justice Commission, Diocese of Reno
  • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

New Jersey

  • SMILE for Charity

New Mexico

  • Global Faith and Justice Project
  • New Mexico Immigrant Law Center

New York

  • Adhikaar for Human Rights and Social Justice
  • African Services Committee, Inc.
  • American Baptist Churches Rochester Genesee Region
  • The Arab American Association of NY
  • Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture
  • Blauvelt Dominican Sisters
  • Buffalo Diocese Care for Creation Committee
  • Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC
  • Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany
  • Catholic Family Center
  • Citizen Action of New York
  • Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration
  • Dominican Sisters of Sparkill
  • Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
  • Greater Rochester Coalition for Immigration Justice
  • The Interfaith Center of New York
  • International Institute of Buffalo
  • Jewish Family Service of Buffalo and Erie County
  • Jews for Racial & Economic Justice
  • Journey’s End Refugee Services, Inc.
  • Kids for College
  • Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service
  • Long Island Wins
  • Make the Road New York
  • MinKwon Center for Community Action
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • NYU Center for Health and Human Rights
  • The Riverside Church
  • Sisters of Charity of New York
  • Sisters of Social Service of Buffalo
  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province Justice Committee
  • St. Raphael PSM
  • Wayne Action for Racial Equality

North Carolina

  • The Art Therapy Institute
  • Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, Inc.
  • Church World Service – Durham
  • Church World Service – Greensboro, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Program
  • Interfaith Refugee Ministry
  • Interfaith Refugee Ministry – Wilmington
  • The Neighborhood Good Samaritan’s Center, Inc.
  • NC African Services Coalition
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants – North Carolina Field Office

Northern Mariana Islands

  • Karidat


  • Catholic Charities Southwestern Ohio
  • Catholic Social Services – Columbus
  • Community Refugee & Immigration Services
  • Congregation of St. Joseph
  • Congregation of St. Joseph Peace and Justice Team
  • International Institute of Akron
  • International Services Center of Cleveland
  • ProgressOhio
  • SC Ministry Foundation
  • US Together, Inc.


  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon/Sponsors Organized To Assist Refugees
  • Oregon Action
  • Oregon Center for Christian Voices
  • SEIU Local 49
  • SEIU Local 503
  • Unidos Bridging Community


  • Advocacy for Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
  • Casa de la Cultura
  • Casa San Jose
  • Catholic Charities Counseling and Adoption Services
  • Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Services of Harrisburg
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg
  • Church World Service – Lancaster
  • Congregation Kol Ami
  • Franciscan Sisters of Allegany
  • HIAS Pennsylvania
  • Immigration Taskforce, Southwestern PA Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh
  • JSPAN, Jewish Social Policy Action Network
  • Justice and Peace Committee of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
  • Keystone Progress
  • Mishkan Shalom
  • Nationalities Service Center
  • New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
  • Northern Area Multi Service Center
  • Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
  • SEAMAAC, Inc. (Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition, Inc.)
  • Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
  • Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians

Rhode Island

  • Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence Immigration & Refugee Service


  • Bridge Refugee Services, Inc. – Chattanooga
  • Bridge Refugee Services, Inc. – Knoxville
  • Catholic Charities of Tennessee
  • Nashville International Center for Empowerment
  • Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition


  • Amistad Houston
  • Caritas of Austin
  • Catholic Charities of Dallas
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
  • The Forced Migration Upward Mobility Project (FMUMP)
  • International Rescue Committee – Dallas
  • Migration and Refugee Services, Houston
  • Refugee Services of Texas – Amarillo
  • Refugee Services of Texas – Dallas
  • Texas Impact


  • Catholic Community Services of Utah
  • Utah Health & Human Rights


  • New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma
  • Vermont Ecumenical Council and Bible Society


  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington
  • Charlottesville Social Services
  • Church World Service – Harrisonburg, Immigration & Refugee Program
  • International Neighbors, Inc.
  • International Rescue Committee – Charlottesville
  • Northern Virginia Family Service
  • ReEstablish Richmond
  • Virginia Council of Churches


  • Asian Counseling and Referral Service
  • Eritrean Association of Greater Seattle
  • Faith Action Network
  • International Rescue Committee – Seattle
  • Jewish Family Service – Seattle
  • OneAmerica
  • Refugee & Immigrant Services NW
  • Refugee Women’s Alliance
  • Tacoma Community House
  • Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • World Relief Seattle


  • Catholic Charities Diocese of La Crosse
  • Marquette University Center for Peacemaking
  • Wisconsin Council of Churches

West Virginia

  • West Virginia Citizen Action Group


  • Wyoming Association of Churches