Washington, D.C. (November 17, 2015) – The American Relief Coalition for Syria (ARCS) strongly condemns the horrific attacks against civilians that took place in Beirut, Baghdad, and Paris late last week. Our hearts and prayers go out to the scores of victims and their families. May you all take peace and comfort in each other’s presence during this difficult time.
In the aftermath of these attacks, we must not forget that refugees from Syria are fleeing for their lives from the very same people who committed last week’s heinous crimes. Syrian refugees are just as much victims of Da’esh (ISIS) as anyone else, as evidenced by the massive refugee exodus following Da’esh’s advances in Palmyra and Aleppo. The international community must recognize that Da’esh has committed random acts of violence against all of humanity and that its agenda is not localized to one group of people or area of the world. Da’esh is not just targeting Christian or Jewish communities, but Muslim populations also. In fact, a report released by the United Nations revealed that Da’esh has killed thousands of civilians in both Syria and Iraq, a far greater number than the civilians targeted in attacks in Western countries.
This week, several U.S. governors and Congressional officials have come out with statements in strong opposition of continuing efforts to resettle Syrian refugees, on the premise that allowing refugees from Syria into the United States will somehow undermine national security. We at ARCS condemn this reprehensible talk as immoral, illogical, and inherently un-American. While we understand the need to protect the United States from violence, the idea that Syrian immigrants pose a threat is unfounded. First, we must remember that all immigrants to the United States face an intense, multi-stage vetting process–one so thorough that vetting takes months or even years to complete before a single refugee is even allowed into the country.
Once refugees finally reach our shores, they still pose no inherent threat to Americans. Given that numerous studies have proven that immigrants are far less likely than native-born citizens to commit violent crime, we can safely say Syrian refugees pose the exact opposite of a security threat. In fact, immigrants bring plenty of economic and social benefits, as consumers with new ideas and unique skills who strengthen the national community. Keeping state borders open is imperative if our country is to benefit from the great resources refugee populations have to offer and set an example for other countries to follow suit. We can and must maintain a balance between security and our collective moral obligation to take in our fair share of refugees.
Syrian refugees have finally reached safety in Europe from the persecution they faced at home, and the mere notion some conservative leaders suggest–that the refugees would then turn around to attack communities which have welcomed them and shown them hospitality–is simply a concocted story born out of xenophobia and Islamophobia. As a globalized society, we must band together to fight this irrational fear and stop re-victimizing the survivors of terrorism. Every country with the capacity to resettle refugees has a duty to open its borders and welcome civilians fleeing ISIS with open arms. The United States in particular, as a nation founded by immigrants, must uphold its legacy.
As long as displaced Syrians remain stuck in limbo in their war-torn homeland, they will face a dangerous and uncertain future: a lack of job prospects, educational opportunities, or protection from harm. Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt have attempted to contain this humanitarian crisis by taking in more than their fair share of refugees. Lebanon and Jordan alone have accounted for the resettlement of half of Syria’s refugee population. Clearly, it is time for the rest of the world to do its part to help resettle all other Syrian refugees.
President Obama’s statement yesterday during a press conference for the G20 summit in Turkey ought to act as a rallying call for American citizens and for U.S. allies: “The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism. They are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents. They are children. They are orphans and it is very important … that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism.” The President’s message is clear: we must not let the fear of violence at the hands of ISIS overshadow our responsibility to protect and integrate the victims of the very same violence that also affects our own communities.
We urge world leaders, particularly the United States and its European allies, to have the courage to continue to receive and resettle all persecuted Syrian refugees, despite their religious beliefs. More importantly, we urge American citizens to take a stand for Syrian refugees and halt the escalating awful rhetoric against refugee resettlement efforts. In order to ensure that no rash decisions are made that will drastically alter the lives of thousands of Syrian refugees, Americans need to exercise their rights as constituents and contact their Congressmen/ Governors/Senators immediately. We urge Americans to take action today: pick up the phone and call your local representative using the phone numbers listed below, especially if you are in the publicly opposed states.
Let’s give Syrian refugees a future full of hope and opportunity. Let’s help them find a safe place to call home.
ARCS was founded in 2013 by a group of Syrian-American relief organizations joining forces to form a coalition of aid groups dedicated to collectively providing Syrians with humanitarian assistance. By pooling the talents and expertise of hundreds of professionals, ARCS member organizations cover all fields of aid and development, including food and clothing, shelter, medical aid, education, women’s development, refugee assistance and sustainable living programs.
ARCS Member Signatories:
Syria Relief & Development (SRD)
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS)
Swasia Charity Foundation
Syrian American Engineers Association (SAEA)
Syrian Community Network (SCN)
Please take action TODAY:
Call your Representative and Senators : 1-866-961-4293
AND if you live in these states, call your Governor!
- Alabama: (334) 242-7100
- Arizona: (520) 628-6580 / (602) 542-4331
- Arkansas: (501) 682-2345
- Florida: (850) 488-7146
- Georgia: (404) 656-1776
- Idaho: (208) 334-2100
- Illinois: (217) 782-0244 / (312) 814-2121
- Indiana: (317) 569-0709
- Iowa: (515) 281-5211
- Kansas: (785) 296-3232
- Louisiana: (225) 342-7015
- Maine: (207) 287-3531 / 1-855-721-5203
- Massachusetts: (617) 725-4005 / (413) 784-1200 / (202) 624-7713
- Michigan: (517) 373-3400
- New Hampshire: (603) 271-2121
- New Jersey: (609) 292-6000
- North Carolina: (919) 814-2000
- Ohio: (614) 466-3555
- Oklahoma: (405) 521-2342
- South Carolina: (803) 734-2100
- Texas: 800-843-5789 / (512) 463-1782
- Wisconsin: (608) 266-1212
When you call, tell the receptionist that as a constituent, you want to help WELCOME Syrian refugees and that you’re against the calls of some governors to reject Syrian refugees.
Ex: “I’m a constituent from [City] and I support the resettlement of Syrian refugees. I urge the Senator / Representative / Governor to represent me and other constituents who seek to welcome Syrian refugees.”
You can also tweet your Members of Congress and your network:
Ex: “.@REPRESENTATIVE, Our community is ready to welcome #Syrian #refugees. #RefugeesWelcome