Welcoming Refugees a National Security Priority, Experts and Advocates Agree


For a recording of today’s panel contact Dan Gordon.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A robust refugee resettlement program is critical to both upholding American values and strengthening national security, speakers on a live panel agreed today.

Panelists touched on the dismantling of the U.S. refugee program, the destabilizing impact of forced displacement, and the need to increase resettlement and address root causes of displacement — topics addressed in a new paper from Elizabeth Neumann, a National Immigration Forum senior advisor who served as a national security expert at the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration.

The following are quotes from panelists:

Elizabeth Neumann, senior advisor to the National Immigration Forum on national security and former assistant secretary of counterterrorism and threat prevention at the Department of Homeland Security under the Trump administration:
“My experience in the Trump administration convinced me that its approach to refugees made the U.S. and the world a more dangerous place. We must repair this damage by increasing the refugee ceiling within our vetting capacity and engaging in the critical and complex work of addressing the root causes of forced displacement. Strengthening the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and security vetting systems will keep us safe and enable more refugees to resettle more quickly within the United States.”

Terron Sims, military veteran and author:
“The United States owes it to those foreign nationals who assist in our missions in their countries, to provide them safe haven when they can no longer call their home, home.”

Matthew Soerens, U.S. director of church mobilization & advocacy, World Relief:
“The U.S. has a strong record of simultaneously protecting American citizens and offering safety and freedom to some of the most vulnerable people in the world through the U.S. refugee resettlement program. We need not choose between being a compassionate nation and being a secure nation. A return to a robust refugee resettlement program will be both an expression of the best of American values and an important foreign policy tool to advance U.S. interests around the world.”

Ali Noorani, president and CEO, National Immigration Forum:
“A robust refugee resettlement program is a prime example of policy that is both practical and compassionate: It not only upholds our core values as a free and welcoming nation; it furthers our strategic interests by strengthening our national security and re-establishing our international leadership. As we look ahead to a new administration and Congress in 2021, refugee resettlement presents a meaningful opportunity for bipartisan leadership that honors our nation’s legacy as a beacon for those seeking safety.”

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