WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and 21 of their colleagues in introducing a Senate resolution reaffirming the United States’ commitment to promote the safety, health, education, and well-being of millions of refugees and displaced persons, including children, who flee war, persecution, or torture in search of peace, hope, and freedom. Introduced in observance of World Refugee Day (June 20), the resolution draws attention to the current global refugee crisis and reaffirms the United States’ commitment to work with our partners to protect the millions of refugees who live without material, social, or legal protections, and highlights that refugees make major contributions to local economies and serve as critical frontline health professionals and essential workers combating the COVID–19 pandemic worldwide.
“The United States has a long tradition of welcoming and resettling refugees, and those fleeing violence and conflict from countries around the world have become a valuable part of the fabric of American society,” said Senator Coons. “On World Refugee Day each year, we recommit to that long tradition, stand with the most vulnerable among us, and work toward once again meeting robust refugee admissions goals. I’m pleased my colleagues could come together today to reaffirm the United States’ role in promoting the safety and wellbeing of refugees at home and around the world.”
“The international community today is faced with the single greatest refugee crisis in history. In the wake of wrenching conflict, disaster, corruption, and climate change, more men, women and children than ever before are fleeing everything they know in pursuit of basic human dignity, security, safety, and health,” Chairman Menendez said. “This resolution serves as a call to action for the United States to continue to honor our legacy as a compassionate, generous champion for human rights and a bastion of hope for marginalized communities. Failure to robustly support the world’s most vulnerable not only undermines our moral leadership but, more significantly, makes us complicit in the perpetuation of their suffering. The United States should increase the number of refugees welcomed to and resettled in the United States to not fewer than 125,000 refugees in the next fiscal year.”
Today’s resolution follows a 2020 Senate Foreign Relations Committee Democratic staff report on the global forced migration crisis commissioned by then-Ranking Member Menendez. The report represented the culmination of an exhaustive SFRC investigation into the latest challenges global forced migration presents to local communities, national governments, the international system, and to the vulnerable men, women and children themselves who are forced to migrate.
Joining Coons and Menendez in cosponsoring the resolution were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
The senators’ resolution was also supported by African American Ministers In Action, Amnesty International USA, Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture, Bread for the World, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Center for Victims of Torture, Church World Service, Coalition on Human Needs, Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS), Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces, Exodus Refugee Immigration, Inc., Faith in Public Life Action, First Focus Campaign for Children, Freedom Network USA, HIAS, Hispanic Federation, Human Rights First, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Islamic Relief USA, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Council of Jewish Women, National Immigration Forum, National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights, National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), New American Economy, New Sanctuary Coalition, Oxfam America, Presidents' Alliance, Project Blueprint, Refugee Congress, Refugees International, Syrian Community Network, Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Stateless, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, We Are All America, Westchester Jewish Coalition for Immigration, Win Without War, Witness at the Border, Women's Refugee Commission, World Education Services, World Relief, and WRD South Dakota Committee.
“On World Refugee Day, we honor refugees’ resilience and demonstrate the broad bipartisan support for refugees across the country. Church World Service commends Congress for planning to introduce a resolution that commemorates World Refugee Day and celebrates the contributions of refugees to our nation. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. This resolution signals our nation’s values of compassion, hospitality, and welcome. We urge the administration to uphold these values, resettle as many refugees this year as possible, set the FY 2022 admissions goal at 125,000, and rebuild the program after years of attacks. Following introduction, we call for the resolution’s swift passage as a testament to our legacy as a nation of welcome,” said Meredith Owen, Director of Policy and Advocacy for Church World Service.
“On World Refugee Day, HIAS recognizes the struggles and strength of the millions of men, women, and children who are refugees across the globe. After more than a year of living through the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects — the lockdowns, the border closures, the increased dangers, and the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment — we hope 2021 is the year refugees and other displaced persons will receive the support they need to rebuild their lives in peace and dignity, and we commend the joint Congressional World Refugee Day Resolution. This World Refugee Day, we honor refugees, applaud their resilience, and call on all countries to welcome the stranger,” said Melanie Nezer, HIAS Senior Vice President, Public Affairs.
Full text of the legislation is available here.