September 10, 2015 NEWS RELEASE — LIRS Urges President Obama to Show Bold Leadership and Compassion Towards Syrian Refugees

Press Contact: Miji Bell
MBell@lirs.org; 410-230-2841

WASHINGTON, DC — In response to increased global attention on the desperation of Syrian refugees seeking safety in Europe, and amid political pressure to demonstrate moral and humanitarian leadership, a White House spokesperson today indicated plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. during the upcoming fiscal year that begins October 1.

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), in coordination with the Refugee Council USA, a coalition of advocates for refugees of which LIRS is a member, urges the United States government to do far more by resettling 100,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016.  Our faith compels us to care for those in need, including our brothers and sisters fleeing persecution in Syria. We call on President Obama to take a bold stance alongside people of faith in welcoming far more of these vulnerable refugees into the United States.

“We are encouraged that the President has recognized the need for the United States to do its part and push open its doors to welcome refugees fleeing Syria,” explained Linda Hartke, President and CEO of LIRS.  “We are not ready to accept, however, today’s announcement that fails to reflect the generosity of the American people to provide welcome and compassion, or the tremendous depth of suffering among refugees fleeing Syria.”

From 2011-2014, less than 200 Syrian refugees were resettled in the United States. In the first 11 months of fiscal year 2015, the United States has received just over 1,200 Syrians.  “Admitting only 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year falls far short of our values and our capacity as Americans, while paling in comparison to the enormity of the Syrian refugee population that has been displaced, which now numbers over 4 million.

Recently arrived Syrian refugee families, having often waited for several years for the opportunity to reach the United States, are already demonstrating their ability to succeed in their new homes, bolstered by the welcome and support they receive from resettlement organizations like LIRS and local communities that are helping them start their new lives.

“We have seen an astonishing outpouring of love and humanity from people of faith, Lutheran congregations and concerned members of the American public to help all refugees, including those from Syria, to feel safe and begin contributing to their new communities,” Hartke continued.  “When given the opportunity, the people of the United States have welcomed vulnerable refugees into our communities and in return have been blessed by the gifts and resilience that refugees bring to their adopted homes.”

###