June 21, 2022

Senator Menendez, Congressman Lieu Lead Colleagues in Introducing Resolution in Observance of World Refugee Day

WASHINGTON – On the heels of World Refugee Day (June 20), U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative Ted Lieu (D-CA-33) were joined by 20 of their Senate colleagues, 67 of their House colleagues, and 11 leading refugee advocacy and human rights organizations in unveiling a resolution reaffirming the United States’ commitment to promote the welfare of refugees and displaced persons worldwide – including children – as they flee conflict, persecution, and torture.

As Putin’s illegal siege on Ukraine continues to displace millions, the bicameral resolution underscores the magnitude of the global refugee crisis and the significance of the U.S.’ leadership in international humanitarian efforts as a champion for those without sufficient material, social, or legal protections.

“In the shadow of violent conflict, climate-related disaster, and global trends toward authoritarianism and democratic backsliding, more people than ever are displaced. Driven from their homes and communities, they are increasingly vulnerable to human trafficking, gender-based violence, and exploitation,” Chairman Menendez said. “This resolution not only recognizes the wrenching struggle of our neighbors, friends, coworkers, and loved ones who have fled Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, South Sudan, and Afghanistan, but it also serves as a clarion call for the United States to uphold its legacy as a bastion of hope for vulnerable populations everywhere. In their brave pursuit of protection and freedom, refugees and displaced persons deserve nothing less than our full support.”

“Many around the world have watched in horror as the war in Ukraine progressed and, in the process, forced millions of Ukrainians to flee their homeland and seek safe refuge elsewhere,” Representative Lieu said. “The global attention on Ukrainian refugees has underscored our humanitarian obligation to help those fleeing from persecution or violence around the world. It is important that the Biden Administration has committed to rebuilding America’s refugee program, and in doing so has helped to restore the world’s faith in the U.S. as a leader in human rights. I’m pleased to once again lead an effort to demonstrate Congress’s resolve to support refugee populations.”

Joining Senator Menendez and Congressman Lieu in cosponsoring the legislation were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

“America’s tradition of providing refuge to the persecuted and oppressed is now more important than ever. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has poured fuel on the fire of an already historic global refugee crisis. At a moment when more human beings have been forcibly displaced from their homes than any other time in recorded history, the United States must not lower our torch – we must raise it higher.  I am proud to join this resolution that reiterates our firm commitment to protecting and welcoming refugees,” Senator Leahy said.

“The United States has long been a beacon of hope for those fleeing from violence, persecution, and political conflict. In the midst of the greatest refugee crisis in our history, today’s resolution is a recommitment to supporting refugees worldwide,” said Senator Durbin. “The U.S. must continue to welcome refugees and offer safe haven from the violence that pushed them from their homes.”

“On this and every World Refugee Day, we are reminded of our nation’s history as a refuge for those who have fled injustice and conflict in search of safety and peace,” said Senator Markey. “We must honor that history by taking action in the present to resettle and assist the countless families across the world – be they from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Central and South America, or elsewhere – who have been displaced by war, climate disaster, disease, violence, and famine.”

“The United States has long been a beacon of hope for the world’s most vulnerable populations, including refugees fleeing war, religious persecution, and climate-related disasters,” said Senator Whitehouse. “I’m glad to join this World Refugee Day resolution to reaffirm America’s commitment to global humanitarian efforts.”

“I’m proud to represent Virginia, which has been enriched by refugees who have made our Commonwealth their home throughout our history. Today, one out of every eight Virginians is born in another country. They’ve made our communities stronger and more dynamic,” said Senator Kaine. “This resolution brings attention to the growing number of refugees around the world who have been forced to flee their homes and underscores the importance of our role in protecting and supporting them.”

“Our nation was founded upon the shared value that we open our arms to those fleeing persecution and violent conflicts. On World Refugee Day, we celebrate the resilience and strength of refugees across the globe. At a time when global insecurity is on the rise, I’m committed to improving conditions for refugees around the world and strengthening our refugee communities here in Maryland,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“Refugees fleeing the most dangerous parts of the world have a long history of giving back to our country and our communities. As countless individuals, families, and children around the world flee persecution and violence, the United States must continue to play a leading role in supporting those displaced by political, environmental, and humanitarian crises. I'm proud to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to defending the dignity and welfare of refugees,” Senator Warnock said.

“This resolution reaffirms our nation’s longstanding commitment to welcoming those fleeing war and persecution. Helping refugees is the right thing to do,” said Senator Klobuchar.

"I'm proud to join my colleagues in recognizing World Refugee Day, honoring the tenacity, determination, and courage of individuals and families forced to flee their homes,” Senator Wyden said. “World Refugee Day is personal for me. My parents fled the horrors of Nazi Germany for refuge in the United States, and they were both clear examples of the millions of immigrants and refugees who have come to the United States to build better lives and manage to build a stronger nation in the process. A safe place to call home is something that everyone deserves, and I will continue to fight so refugees are welcomed and supported here."

“The need to support refugees and displaced people fleeing violence, persecution, food insecurity, and climate-driven threats grows daily, with record levels of displacement worldwide.” said Senator Coons. “In my visits with refugees in my home state of Delaware and around the world, I have been struck by their tenacity, bravery, and resilience. The United States has long been a global leader in our generosity and commitment to support these vulnerable populations. Now more than ever we must live up to that legacy.” 

“As the war in Ukraine and conflicts in numerous countries continue to displace millions, it is more important than ever to demonstrate America’s leadership in welcoming refugees,” said Senator Padilla. “This World Refugee Day, I call on the United States to uphold our legal and moral obligations to protect people fleeing persecution, torture, and other harm, and reaffirm our dedication to supporting these displaced populations.”

“From famine to conflict, severe human rights abuses, climate change, and a global pandemic, the global displacement we are witnessing now is not going away,” said Senator Merkley. “Refugees contribute enormously to the economies of the communities where they relocate. How we respond—or whether we respond at all—will impact the lives of future generations for years to come. Today’s resolution honors and acknowledges refugees around the world—celebrating the strengths and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict or persecution.”

“World Refugee Day was created to honor refugees around the world and to bring attention to their needs and struggles. Our current social climate is deeply inhospitable to displaced persons; as leaders of the free world, it is imperative that we set an example in our treatment of refugees,” said Senator Cardin. “Our resolution acknowledges that the refugee crisis will not be solved overnight, but with compassion and hard work, we can provide these people the security they so desperately need.”

“Welcoming oppressed and persecuted people has always been a core part of our national identity,” said Senator Smith. “Immigrants and refugees have added to the cultural and economic richness of our country. At a time when more than 100 million displaced people around the world have been forced to leave their homes, I am proud to support this resolution recognizing their resilience and reaffirming our commitment to their health and safety.”

Also joining Senator Menendez and Congressman Lieu in cosponsoring the legislation were Representatives Adam Smith (WA-9), Scott Peters (CA-52), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-Del.), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-9), Lou Correa (CA-46), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA-4), David Price (NC-4), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Bobby Rush (IL-1), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-3), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-7), Mark Pocan (WI-2), James McGovern (MA-2), Shontel M. Brown (OH-11), David Trone (MD-6), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Karen Bass (CA-37), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Suzan K. DelBene (WA-1), Ron Kind (WI-3), Gerald E. Connolly (VA-11), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Brad Schneider (IL-10), Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-5), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Andy Levin (MI-9), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), John Yarmuth (KY-3), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Betty McCollum (MN-4), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Dwight Evans (PA-3), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam-Del.), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-8), Grace Meng (NY-6), Pramila Jayapal (WA-7), Dina Titus (NV-1), Ami Bera (CA-7), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), David N. Cicilline (RI-1), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), Jim Langevin (RI-2), Joe Neguse (CO-2), Marie Newman (IL-3), Doris O. Matsui (CA-6), Chellie Pingree (ME-1), Derek Kilmer (WA-6), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), and Jerry Nadler (NY-10).

“As crises around the world have led to record levels of displacement, it is more important than ever that the United States maintains a robust refugee resettlement program,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship. “Refugee resettlement protects the world’s most vulnerable people and advances our national security interests, and refugees are invaluable to our economy and our communities. I applaud the Biden Administration’s actions to restore our global leadership in aiding refugees, but our nation must continue to do more to protect those fleeing persecution.”

“As we commemorate World Refugee Day, I am proud to stand by the refugees in my community,” said Rep. Nadler (NY-10), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee. “Since the Refugee Act of 1980, our nation has been a beacon of hope for refugees and asylum seekers from around the world. Now more than ever, it is essential that we provide refuge to all those fleeing persecution, regardless of their race or nationality.”

Eleven organizations also endorsed the legislation. They include Church World Service, Human Rights First, Voice for Refuge Action Fund, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, World Relief, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Bridges Faith Initiative, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), Refugees International, and International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP).

“This World Refugee Day resolution comes at a time when there are more than 100 million people worldwide searching for a safe place to call home. Whether they are from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Cameroon, Ethiopia or El Salvador these families have had to make the incredibly difficult decision to leave everything they knew behind to protect themselves and their children from violence and persecution,” said Rick Santos, President and CEO of Church World Service. “Senator Menendez and Representative Lieu know both that our nation has a rich and robust legacy of protecting refugees and asylum seekers, and that the current resettlement program does not have enough support and capacity to meet this moment of urgent need. This resolution reaffirms our nation’s commitment to welcoming the stranger by committing to strengthening this program, ensuring access to protection for people seeking asylum, and ending unjust and inequitable immigration policies that discriminate against those seeking safety.”

“We appreciate Senator Menendez and Congressmember Lieu’s leadership on this World Refugee Day resolution. It is a welcome step toward restoring the United States’ leadership in protecting people seeking refuge from persecution,” said Michael Breen, CEO and President of Human Rights First. “This nation must lead by example and end policies that undermine access to asylum and rebuilding the refugee resettlement system. This resolution renews our government’s commitment to upholding the Refugee Convention, refugee law, and the right to seek asylum. Human Rights First is proud to partner with Members of Congress as well as refugee, veteran, legal, and faith organizations dedicated to welcoming to this country people seeking refuge from danger, oppression, and persecution.”

“In the face of unprecedented displacement and global crises, we are grateful to Senator Menendez and Congressman Lieu for their leadership in acknowledging World Refugee Day and for standing with refugee families in need of protection. Congress must continue to step up to ensure that refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants are welcomed into our communities and given opportunities to thrive,” said Mary Elizabeth Margolis, Acting Managing Director of Voice for Refuge Action Fund. “We proudly endorse this World Refugee Day resolution and look forward to working with congressional partners to build a robust system that protects and supports vulnerable families seeking safety.”

“Thank you to Senator Menendez and Rep. Lieu for their leadership in recognizing World Refugee Day and reaffirming the United States’ commitment to welcoming refugees and asylum seekers in the midst of historic global displacement,” said Joan Rosenhauer, Executive Director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA. “The U.S. must be prepared to meet the challenges of increased violence, persecution, and the effects of climate change head on. Congress plays a critical role in ensuring that sufficient attention and resources are allocated to those who have been forcibly displaced, and we look forward to continuing to work together to meet their needs.”

“We’re grateful that this resolution recognizes the dignity and resilience of those who are forcibly displaced around the world, and urges greater U.S. leadership to provide protection and assistance to those who cannot go back home,” said Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief. “At a time of unprecedented forced migration, the global community must rise up to meet the challenges of forced migration and commit to providing any assistance to those seeking refuge no matter who they are, where they’ve come from or where they’re going. We believe this World Refugee Day resolution provides further clarity and dedication from Congress to strengthen the mantle of U.S. leadership on refugee protection.”

“On World Refugee Day and every day, we must uphold and celebrate the human dignity of our siblings who are forced to flee their home countries to escape conflict or persecution.” said Mary J. Novak, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice. “I urge all elected officials to answer the sacred call to ‘love your neighbor’ by prioritizing the safety, health, and well-being of millions of refugees and asylum seekers.”

“We are grateful to Senator Menendez and Rep. Lieu  and all of the senators and representatives for their integrity and recommitting to uphold the US laws and values to welcome all those who suffer persecution,” said Rabbi Joshua Lesser, President, Bridges Faith Initiative. “The Jewish tradition urges us to not only cease the oppression of the refugee and asylum seeker, but to love the refugee and asylum seeker, because we too have been them. Furthermore the cornerstone of every faith is uplifting the dignity of humanity. This World Refugee Day we celebrate the dignity, resilience and resourcefulness of all those displaced around the world as we work to end forcible displacement and promote a more hospitable global ethic.”

“Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice joins other faith based and immigrant led advocates in strong support of the World Refugee Day Resolution. As Unitarian Universalists, our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every human compels us to support the safety and security of these persons fleeing violence and repression. In particular, we call on the US government to fully rebuild and adequately fund the infrastructure for accepting refugees and asylum seekers. This World Refugee Day resolution is an opportunity to declare clearly and firmly, we as a nation stand for a welcoming body politic, and strive to live that commitment,” said Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice.

“On this World Refugee Day, CGRS celebrates the courage and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers who turn to the United States for safety,” said Karen Musalo, Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS). “We welcome the World Refugee Day Resolution, which reaffirms the United States’ commitment to welcome people fleeing persecution and issues an urgent call for the U.S. government to fully restore access to asylum. Amidst an unprecedented global refugee crisis, people seeking safety at the U.S. border continue to languish in danger under policies that deprive them of their rights. CGRS is grateful for the leadership and moral clarity shown by members of Congress today. We stand ready to work alongside lawmakers to build an asylum system that welcomes all people seeking refuge with dignity and fairness.”

"We endorse this resolution’s commitment to giving refugees and asylum seekers of all nationalities a better and more equal chance to gain safety and to thrive in, and contribute to, this country,” said Eric Schwartz, President of Refugees International. “Beyond rebuilding and robustly funding the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and asylum system, Congress should also expand assistance and create additional pathways to protection for those forcibly displaced by violence and climate change.”

"Today's World Refugee Day Resolution is a bold call to action that acknowledges the real challenges facing the U.S. refugee and asylum systems, as well as the even greater opportunities for the U.S. to lead in the welcome and protection of displaced people from around the world," said Becca Heller, Executive Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP). "IRAP is grateful for the leadership of Senator Menendez, Representative Lieu, and the other members of Congress who have come together to affirm a vision to rebuild a just immigration system that welcomes and protects refugees and other displaced people. Accessible and effective pathways to safety should be the norm, not the exception, for everyone, regardless of nationality or creed."

Find a copy of the resolution HERE

###

Press Contact

Juan Pachon