1. Statement
  2. Immigrants & Refugees

FCNL Opposes House Anti-Refugee Legislation

By Yasmine Taeb, Rebecca Harris, June 21, 2017

Based on our commitment to honoring human dignity and assisting those experiencing hardship, FCNL opposes H.R. 2826 and all other policy proposals that would undermine refugee resettlement.

“H.R. 2826, misleadingly titled the ‘Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act,’ shows striking disregard for the religious freedom, equality, and very humanity of refugees,” said FCNL Lobbyist for Human Rights and Civil Liberties Yasmine Taeb.

“As incidents of Islamophobic and nativist violence become more frequent,” Taeb said, “it is our responsibility as Americans to stand against hate and live our values by welcoming those most in need, offering refuge, and lifting up our shared humanity. We must support the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, not cut, undermine, or vilify it.”

H.R. 2826 would harm the U.S. refugee resettlement program by placing refugees under continual surveillance after arrival; narrowing the definition of “refugee” so that countless individuals facing life-threatening persecution would no longer qualify for refugee status; terminating a refugee’s status if she returns to her country of origin to search for a missing child; and allowing state and local governments to close all refugee resettlement offices in areas under their jurisdiction.

This bill would also lower the United States’ refugee resettlement goal to 50,000 refugees per year, a reduction of forty percent from fiscal year 2016. Finally, by giving religious minorities priority over other refugees, the bill mirrors the kind of discrimination from which refugees often hope to escape.

It is our responsibility as Americans to welcome those most in need, offer refuge, and lifting up our shared humanity.

“FCNL urges members of Congress to reject any proposals that would stop, pause, or obstruct refugee resettlement in the United States,” Taeb said, emphasizing the robustness of the United States’ refugee screening process and the program’s record of successful refugee resettlement. “As part of the faith community, FCNL urges also members of Congress to speak out against derogatory, inflammatory, and fear-mongering rhetoric about refugees,” Taeb said. “Such rhetoric has no place in response to any humanitarian crisis.”

Reaffirming FCNL’s commitment to religious freedom, Taeb also stated that “we unequivocally oppose any legislation or proposal that prioritizes Christian refugees at the expense of Muslim refugees and individuals from other faiths resettling in the United States.”

Though she acknowledged that H.R. 2826 is troubling and of itself, Taeb noted that “we cannot treat this bill as an isolated proposal.” She cited President Trump’s March 6th executive order, which also contains the proposed reduction of our resettlement target to 50,000 refugees per year , as well has his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018, which contains both the 50,000 target and across-the-board cuts to federal refugee programs. “No matter how they are implemented,” Taeb said, “these measures are unacceptable.”

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Yasmine Taeb

  • Legislative Director for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Yasmine directs FCNL’s work on a number of human rights and civil liberties issues, including lobbying for increased resettlement of refugees, more transparency and oversight of the U.S. lethal drones program, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, and for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, among other issues.

Rebecca Harris

  • Program Assistant for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Rebecca Harris works closely with Legislative Representative Yasmine Taeb on issues including the Syrian refugee situation, the United States’ “War on Terror,” military use of lethal drones, and the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. As Program Assistant, she conducts research, meets with congressional staff, and drafts letters and other materials.