Yesterday, 112 House Representatives sent a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations calling for increased funding to address the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) spearheaded the letter.
Specifically, the letter asks for substantially increased funding for these accounts:
- The U.S. Agency for International Development’s International Disaster Assistance account responds to the growing numbers of internally displaced persons, particularly in Syria and Iraq, and to supports refugee hosting countries and promote regional stability.
- The Department of State’s Migration and Refugee Assistance and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance accounts assist refugees abroad and identify, process and provide initial integration assistance to refugees resettled in the United States.
- The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Refugee and Entrant Assistance account ensures local communities have the resources they need to help refugees integrate and thrive as they rebuild their lives.
- The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, for the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Directorate account to more expeditiously screen refugees for resettlement to the United States, a process that is currently fee-funded and in need of additional capacity.
Peace Action West applauds the decision of these lawmakers to take a stand for increased funding for aid to refugees and displaced persons overseas as well as for the U.S. vetting process to allow us to safely accept more refugees in this country. Increasing funding for these programs will not only help the millions of people fleeing war-torn countries in the Middle East, it will also undermine some of the most effective recruiting tactics that groups like ISIS use to bolster their ranks. It will undermine the message that the U.S. and the West in general hates Muslims and is at war with Islam, and it will undermine the economic incentives ISIS and other extremist groups provide by funding programs that provide food, housing, and other critical services to refugees and displaced persons. Therefore, increasing funding for these accounts is not only a moral decision in keeping with American values, it is also a strategic decision in keeping with a smarter approach to foreign policy that we desperately need.
Thank you to all Peace Action West members and others who took action to encourage their Representatives to sign this letter.