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More House Democrats Voice Opposition to Adding Anti-Refugee Measures to Omnibus Bill

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Following Groundswell of Progressive Activism on Behalf of Refugees, Rep. Jared Polis Spearheads New Effort to Protect American Values

Over the weekend, Nahal Toosi of Politico broke the news that Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) is spearheading an effort to keeping anti-refugee measures out of the omnibus appropriations bill expected to pass in Congress this month.  This letter represents the power of religious leaders and a progressive movement that expressed deep disappointment with Democrats who initially voted in favor of anti-refugee legislation.

Per Toosi:

“More than half of the House Democrats who voted to restrict the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S. appear to be having second thoughts.

“At least 26 of the 47 Democrats who supported the measure have signed on to a letter urging House Speaker Paul Ryan not to include it in a must-pass omnibus spending bill likely to be voted on in the coming days, according to groups helping arrange the missive.

“The lawmakers assert that the U.S. has an obligation to help people seeking refuge from violence and persecution. They also reject measures being floated that would defund the U.S. refugee resettlement program, arguing that ‘funds available for the vetting and placement of refugees should be increased to ensure a thorough and expeditious process.’

“‘We should all agree that inserting wholesale changes to refugee admission policies into a year-end spending bill—where they cannot be properly debated or amended—is not the appropriate way to consider these issues,’ the letter states.”

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “We’re happy to see Rep. Polis lead his Democratic colleagues in standing up for refugees and upholding our tradition of welcoming those fleeing horrific violence.  It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing, and we commend all Democrats who have committed themselves to protecting American values and stifling GOP-led efforts to spread intolerance and fear.”

The letter precedes a week of events to call for a humane, common sense approach to welcoming refugees.  Last week, one thousand rabbis sent a letter to Congress urging support for refugees, as did another group of five hundred religious leaders.  For more information on these and other pro-refugee actions, see this recap and the #AmericaWelcomes site by MoveOn.org Civic Action here.

Today, faith leaders from Pennsylvania will call on Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey to “show courage over cowardice” on the refugee issue.  And tomorrow, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will join faith leaders to call directly on their colleagues to do the same.  Also tomorrow, Rep. Seth Moulton will join national security leaders to discuss the latest legislative attempts to block refugee resettlement and detail how America can both protect our citizens and honor our values.