AILA: America Must Respond More Generously to Refugee Crisis

CONTACTS:
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org
Ellie Silver
202-507-7611
esilver@aila.org

Washington, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) today called upon President Obama to go beyond the commitment he made to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees and to extend more meaningful protection to all refugees and asylum seekers whether they are resettled from abroad or have crossed U.S. borders fleeing violence, persecution, and other horrors.

"The need is both urgent and dire as Syrian refugees flee violence and turmoil in search of safety and security," said AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis. He continued, "There are four million Syrian refugees seeking protection in Europe and the Middle East. Many other countries are sheltering hundreds of thousands, so our offer to resettle 10,000 is a small one and should only be the first in a series of steps. Since its founding, our nation has always been a beacon of hope for those fleeing oppression and persecution. We can and must do more."

AILA joins other organizations, such as the Refugee Council USA, in asking the President to raise the refugee admissions ceiling for Fiscal Year 2016 to 200,000 and designating 100,000 of those admissions for Syrian refugees. AILA also supports the important effort by a bipartisan group of House members to pass the "Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act of 2015" (H.R. 1568) which would give especially vulnerable Syrian refugees direct access to the U.S. Refugee Admission Process while enforcing the security measures currently in place. AILA further urges improvements to the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security capacity to handle the increased number of security and background checks for refugees.

Mr. Nieblas Pradis cautioned, "As our nation responds to the crisis overseas, we cannot forget that thousands of mothers and children from Central America who are fleeing violence and turmoil and likely qualify for asylum protection under U.S. law are being treated in a callous and inhumane manner by our government. Our government's long-term detention of thousands of these families in South Texas and Pennsylvania cannot be ignored. The mass incarceration of asylum seekers is anathema to our country's history and values, and it is happening right now within our borders. We should offer help to those seeking refuge from persecution and violence whether they fled from war in Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan or from gangs, rape, or domestic violence in Honduras, Guatemala, or El Salvador. No matter which land they have been driven from, our laws guarantee humanitarian protection."

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 15091100.