Posted by Eddie Bejarano on December 21, 2015 in Blog

On Friday, December 18, 2015, AAI participated in a Syrian Refugees Roundtable Discussion and a Citizenship Briefing at the White House along with a diverse group of ethnic organizations and organizations helping Syrian refugees resettle in the United States. The roundtable featured several administration officials including Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope, Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy Felicia Escobar, Associate Director of Public Engagement John Bisognano, and Special Assistant to the President and NSC Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States Jeffrey Prescott. The discussion was very insightful and productive, and it is clear that many organizations, regardless of what ethnicity they represent, are supportive of the administration’s decision to continue admitting larger numbers of Syrian refugee while safeguarding our national security.

The beginning portion of this event focused on the U.S. refugee admission program and domestic resettlement and integration. Specifically, the administration officials present provided an overview of how the administration is welcoming refugees while ensuring our nation’s security. Many participants asked the officials what their organization could do to help President Obama in his efforts to resettle Syrian refugees in the U.S. Moreover, with concerted efforts by members of Congress, and several governors across the country, to bar the entry of Syrian refugees to the United States, several of the participants sought to learn how to best assist the administration in countering a flawed narrative being purported by a growing number of public officials who are manipulating a climate of fear to advocate for a halt of Syrian refugees in the U.S.

Following this critical discussion, administration officials highlighted efforts to welcome immigrants and refugees to the U.S. through the White House Task Force on New Americans. This task force, established by President Obama in November 2014, is tasked with strengthening the integration of immigrants and refugees into local communities. Additionally, administration officials discussed the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign, which is an initiative to promote citizenship among those who are eligible. The initiatives that were discussed reflected the comments made by President Obama days earlier at a Naturalization Ceremony in Washington, DC. During this event, President Obama reasserted his belief that the U.S must combat bigotry and continue to proudly celebrate our nation’s diversity.

Events such as the Syrian Refugees Roundtable Discussion and Citizenship Briefing at the White House not only reflect our nation’s growing diversity, but they offer a sharp rebuke to bigotry and racism. In 2015, the Arab American and American Muslim communities confronted an ever-increasing amount of bigotry and hatred. This prejudiced manifested itself in several policy areas, one of them being Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S. It was clearly evident during this event that while a small minority of the U.S. population will continue to use fear mongering to promote a misleading understanding of Syrian refugee resettlement, there is even more work being done to reflect our nation’s historic tolerance and acceptance of refugees and immigrants from all over the world. 

comments powered by Disqus