Faith, Security Leaders Change the Refugee Conversation

Communications Associate

December 3, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Conservative faith and national security leaders’ support for welcoming refugees is growing, and it’s leading Congress to reconsider efforts to halt refugee programs.

In a letter to legislators released Tuesday, 20 high-profile national security experts urged Congress to reject bills that would hinder refugee resettlement.

“We believe that America can and should continue to provide refuge to those fleeing violence and persecution without compromising the security and safety of our nation,” the letter reads. “To do otherwise would be contrary to our nation’s traditions of openness and inclusivity, and would undermine our core objective of combating terrorism … Refugees are victims, not perpetrators, of terrorism.”

On Wednesday, evangelical leaders held a telephonic press conference and sent a letter to Congress also urging compassion toward refugees, and more than 1,000 rabbis signed a letter urging elected officials to “exercise moral leadership for the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program” and citing the U.S.’s questionable past in refugee acceptance.

Republican leaders, too, are beginning to question the anti-refugee message many leaders are sending. They include Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma.

“We have had dark periods when we have done this in the past,” Russell is quoted in a Politico article as saying. “History never judges it kindly — never.”

Regardless of where they come from, refugees contribute to our communities and benefit our cities, as a National Public Radio feature highlighting Buffalo, N.Y., points out.

“America has always been a nation of refugees and other immigrants, a place where people come to seek freedom and safety,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Our concerns for our safety are real, and they are a top priority, but fear of refugees is unfounded.

“Instead of vilifying people who are fleeing violence and persecution, we must extend our hand to those who pass the extensive screening process.”