Syria

The conflict in Syria has produced the largest refugee crisis in the world, with three million people forced to flee since the conflict began. More than half of them are children, most of whom do not attend school. They are already considered Syrian’s “lost generation.” Winter is approaching and refugees face dire conditions in makeshift camps without basic necessities.

The sheer magnitude of this crisis and the massive impact on the host countries struggling to meet the needs of these refugees in an already unstable region demands a vigorous and compassionate resettlement response for the most vulnerable who will never be safe where they are.

Increase the Number of Refugees Admitted to the U.S. Annually

Despite a history of leadership in refugee protection, a stunningly low number of Syrians have been resettled in the United States since the conflict began. The U.S. should commit to accepting at least half of the refugees identified as needing resettlement -- 15,000 each year over the next five years. Instead the Administration kept the quota for total refugee admittance to the U.S. at 70,000 for 2015, which was the same number as 2014.  Despite the humanitarian costs of the refugee crises in Syria and Iraq and the fact that there are more displaced people in the world today than at any time since World War II, the number of refugees resettled in the United States remains static.

We are already advocating for an increased quota in 2016. The U.S. must have the ability to provide Syrians with refuge or welcome refugees who would otherwise resettle in European countries so that our allies can assist Syrians.

Rescuing fewer than 1% of Syrian refugees will not solve the crisis but would save some of the most vulnerable refugees and show that the U.S. is doing what it can to support the Syrian people and the host countries.

Policy Obstacles that Prevent Syrians from Resettlement Have Been Revised

HIAS successfully advocated for revisions to the Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds (TRIG bars) contained in the Patriot Act to remove legal obstacles for some particularly vulnerable Syrian refugees, including women and children. 

Previously, these bars applied to any individual who provided “material support” to insurgents, including something as simple of a bowl of rice given under duress, from entering the U.S. The laws were so broad that they denied safe haven in the U.S. to Syrian refugees who engaged in resistance against the Assad regime but pose no threat to the safety of Americans.

The Rights of Syrian Refugees Must Be Protected

It is imperative that the rights of Syrian refugees be respected and that the international community ensure that refugees are not returned to harm. Additionally, given that the large numbers of refugees strain the infrastructures of the countries hosting them, the international community must provide ongoing humanitarian aid to both the refugees and the host countries. 

READ HIAS STATEMENT TO THE SENATE ABOUT THE SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS

READ A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT BY A HIAS STAFFER DEPLOYED IN JORDAN

READ MORE ABOUT HIAS IN THE MIDDLE EAST