Brave New Films Launches Petition Drive Urging Congress to Admit Many More Syrian Refugees

A new campaign is being launched to urge Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to significantly increase the number of Syrian refugees who can come to the United States.

In September, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the refugee ceiling for the federal fiscal year starting October 1 would be increased to 85,000 from the standard worldwide refugee ceiling of 70,000. This would include at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled here, which pales in contrast to the hundreds of thousands being resettled across Europe, especially in Germany.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham are co-sponsoring legislation to provide $1 billion in immediate assistance to bring in many more refugees from the Syrian civil war. Their proposal is being opposed by some Senate Republicans, such as Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who said the Obama administration does not have adequate screening measures in place to ensure that would-be terrorists are not admitted to the U.S.

"Not one dollar should be expended until stringent parameters for vetting these refugees are established," he recently told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

After Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, you can expect that the rhetoric opposing the Leahy-Graham bill will increase, even though the refugees are trying to escape from the very people who likely perpetuated the attacks in France. That presumption is based on the fact that the French military was assisting the U.S. in its attacks on ISIS in the mideast.

Nonetheless, a growing coalition that supports resettling many more Syrians in the U.S. is launching a campaign to pressure Congress to pass the Leahy-Graham bill before it adjourns for the calendar year. A petition drive has been launched to urge Congress to act and Brave New Films has produced a short video highlighting the human costs of inaction.

"The world is experiencing the largest refugee crisis since World War II," said Brave News Film's webpage seeking signatures. "Millions of innocent children and families have been forced to flee their war-torn countries. Providing help to refugees escaping war in the Middle East is vital to our own security. For once, instead of spending billions on war, we can use our resources to provide humanitarian relief and save lives."

The filmmakers note that the U.S. response pales in comparison to other countries and is out of step with recent U.S. history.

"The United States is doing almost nothing to help this crisis," they said. "Pledging to take in 10,000 refugees eventually is not enough, when 19 million people have fled and countries like Germany take in 10,000 in one day."


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