06.20.16

Leahy: “Today – and every day – I stand with refugees”

On World Refugee Day, Leahy Calls For Acceptance

WASHINGTON (Monday, June 20, 2016) – Marking World Refugee Day, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on lawmakers to stand with refugees escaping violence and persecution around the world—and to reject divisive rhetoric.

“World Refugee Day is a day we remember our common humanity and the moral imperative to love and care for one another,” Leahy said.  “I can think of no better time than now to pause and remember those fundamental principles.”

He added:  “The rhetoric of hate and intolerance has reached a frightening pitch in this country, much of it directed against innocent victims of persecution.  We must forcefully reject this un-American rhetoric.  With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced around the globe, we must not lower our torch – we must raise it higher.  Our national values demand it, and our national interest requires it.  As we reflect upon the fate of refugees across the world, we must reclaim our history as a refuge for the persecuted.  Today – and every day – I stand with refugees.”

Over the past five years, more than half of Syria’s 23 million people have been forced from their homes. The vast majority of these are women and children.  El Salvador and Guatemala have the highest child murder rates in the world, and Honduran children face equally frightening situations in their home country.  Leahy has called for a Congressional response to the humanitarian crisis in the Northern Triangle of Central America.  He is the coauthor of the bipartisan Graham-Leahy Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to respond to the refugee crisis resulting from conflict in the Middle East.  And he has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s deportation raids.  Instead, Leahy has urged President Obama to ensure that vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, especially children, receive meaningful due process and access to counsel. 

In Vermont, Leahy has praised the city of Rutland and Mayor Christopher Louras for accepting 100 Syrian refugees.  Vermont Public Radio recently highlighted the successes of refugee resettlement in the city of Winooski, where refugees comprise approximately 20 percent of the population.  In total, Vermont has welcomed nearly 8,000 refugees from more than a dozen war-torn countries.

“Refugees have enriched our communities and are making important contributions to our state. They have become college-educated citizens, small business owners, nurses, and soccer coaches,” Leahy said.  “I am confident that Vermont will continue to be a welcoming home for refugee families.”

Senator Leahy’s full statement on World Refugee Day is available online.

 

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