Advocacy letter

Congress: Vote against H.R. 4038 American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Ac

Freedom House and 58 other prominent humanitarian NGOs urge the Senate to vote against the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. 

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Dear Senator: 

We write to you today as 59 humanitarian and faith-based NGOs, representing millions of
Americans who directly support our work overseas. We strongly urge you to vote against H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, any similar appropriations policy riders and/or legislation which may be considered.

The United States should not jeopardize its position as a leader in responding to the largest refugee crisis since World War II by imposing new restrictions upon Syrians who are fleeing violence and terrorism. The United States has a long, proud history of welcoming persecuted people.  Rather than turn away from that history, we should honor it, considering it our moral obligation to help the most vulnerable of these refugees and provide them with a safe haven.

In a bipartisan letter, the most recent former Secretaries of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano and Michael Chertoff, stated: “The [refugee screening] process that is currently in place is thorough and robust and, so long as it is fully implemented and not diluted, it will allow us to safely admit the most vulnerable refugees while protecting the American people. Fortunately, these goals are not mutually exclusive.”  These screenings take an average of two years to complete and include numerous security checks for every individual refugee, such as cross-checking the FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist, independent compilation of background information, a face-to-face interview with personnel from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), and further verification by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon arrival in the United States.

With these procedures already in place, resettlement should remain a viable option for vulnerable Syrians, particularly the survivors of violence and torture, including persecuted religious groups, those with acute medical conditions, and women and children. The refugees currently referred to the State Department for resettlement in the United States fall into these groups.

Furthermore, the United States should complement resettlement with strong efforts to address the root causes of this crisis at their source, in the Middle East. This means redoubling efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the war in Syria and providing humanitarian assistance both inside Syria and in neighboring countries. It also means stepping up assistance to the countries that surround Syria—which are hosting over four million refugees—to help them meet diverse needs.


Action Against Hunger
ActionAid USA
Alliance to End Hunger
American Friends Service Committee
American Refugee Committee
Bread for the World
Catholic Relief Services
Center for Applied Linguistics
ChildFund International
Church World Service
Concern Worldwide US
Counterpart International
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Faiths for Safe Water
Food for the Hungry
Freedom House
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Handicap International
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Helen Keller International
International Catholic Migration Commission
International Executive Service Corps
International Institute of Buffalo
International Institute of Los Angeles
International Institute of St. Louis
International Institute of the Bay Area
International Medical Corps
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Relief USA
J Street
Just Foreign Policy
Kids in Need of Defense
Life for Relief and Development
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
Mercy Corps
Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
Nationalities Service Center
Oxfam America
Peace Action West
Plan International USA
Refugees International
Relief International
Save the Children
Solidarity Center
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
Syria Relief and Development
Syrian American Medical Society
The Hunger Project
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
United Nations Association of the United States of America
Win Without War
World Food Program USA
World Learning