Proposed Syrian refugee resolution for the city of Takoma Park

A Syrian holds his child as he waits to register as a refugee at a UNHCR office in Cairo. 7/7/2013
SOURCE UNHCR/S.Baldwin.

As is well known, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently asked the federal government to “cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland until the U.S. government can provide appropriate assurances that refugees from Syria pose no threat to public safety.”

He is not the only governor to have made such a request, nor the only one to have invited criticism for doing so.  In particular, the City of Chicago passed Resolution R2015-195 last week, in response to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, reaffirming Chicago’s status as a sanctuary city and encouraging its departments to continue to assist with refugee resettlement.

As a respectful suggestion to the Takoma Park City Council, and in collaboration with Peace Action Montgomery, we have adapted the Chicago resolution to refer to Takoma Park, and have also added footnotes and one graphic substantiating statements of fact made in the resolution.

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RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, Takoma Park is proud to be an ethnically diverse city, in which over one third (34%) of the county’s residents were born outside of the United States [1] ; indicating that Takoma Park is truly a city of immigrants and

WHEREAS, over one third (35%) of Takoma Park residents speak a language other than English at home [1]; and

WHEREAS, the people of Takoma Park have a long history of opening their arms and homes to the vulnerable and disadvantaged; and

WHEREAS, Takoma Park is proud of its immigrant communities, including Ethiopian, El Salvadoran, Caribbean, Central American communities and others; and

WHEREAS, Takoma Park is proud to have declared itself a sanctuary city in 1985 and reaffirmed that in 2007 [2]; and

WHEREAS, the conflict in Syria has caused a refugee crisis, which Takoma Park will not ignore; and

WHEREAS, more than seven million Syrians have been displaced by war [3], and whereas many of those referred to the United States for resettlement are the most vulnerable from Syria’s collapse, including torture survivors, people with special medical needs, women who head households, and children; and

WHEREAS, the number of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria to neighboring countries has now eclipsed four million [4], thus confirming the Syrian refugee crisis as the world’s single largest refugee crisis in almost a quarter of a century [5]; and

WHEREAS, President Obama has committed to accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next year [6]; and

Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States; click image for full-size view, link for full article.

WHEREAS, refugees to the United States are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to our country [7]; and

WHEREAS, refugees are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security; and

WHEREAS, refugees from Syria are subject to additional screening that verifies what caused them to flee their homes [8]; and

WHEREAS, the intense background and medical checks required of refugees can take as much as two years to complete [9]; and

WHEREAS, half of the Syrian refugees brought to the United States have been children [10]; and

WHEREAS, Governor Larry Hogan recently requested that the Federal government not send any Syrian refugees to Maryland [11]; and

WHEREAS, The Refugee Act of 1980 declared that it is “the historic policy of the United States to respond to the urgent needs of persons subject to persecution in their homelands” and gave the President the power to handle an “unforeseen emergency refugee situation” such as one involving “grave humanitarian concerns” [12]; and

WHEREAS, Syrian refugees should be treated with the dignity, care, and compassion that every person deserves; and

WHEREAS, refugees legally admitted to the United States require housing and support services such as counseling, education, health care, food, security, case management and legal assistance; now therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that we the members of the Takoma Park City Council hereby reaffirm the City of Takoma Park’s status as a sanctuary city and its commitment to remain a place of support for refugees from around the world; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Takoma Park City Council urges the President to pursue diplomacy and negotiations to end the wars in Syria, including with the governments of Iran, Russia and Syria; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Takoma Park City Council urges the U.S. Congress to streamline the current two-year vetting process for Syrian refugees and appropriate sufficient funds to enable the country to accept its fair share of refugees; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Takoma Park City Council hereby
urges city departments, local businesses, and charitable organizations to work with refugee organizations to provide shelter and sustenance for refugee families relocating to Takoma Park and integrating into our communities.

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  1.  http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/24/2476650.html; figures are for 2009-2013.
  2. Takoma Park Stays Immigrant ‘Sanctuary’ (Washington Post, 10/30/07)
  3.  Seven million Syrians displaced by war: UN (Daily Star, 9/3/13)
  4. Stories from Syrian Refugees. UNHCR. http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/syria.php
  5. U.N.: Syrian Refugee Crisis Is ‘Biggest Humanitarian Emergency Of Our Era’ (NPR, 8/29/14)
  6. Obama Increases Number of Syrian Refugees for U.S. Resettlement to 10,000 (New York TImes, 9/10/15)
  7. Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States (Amy Pope, Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security; White House, 11/20/15)
  8. Background Briefing on Refugee Screening and Admissions (Department of State, 11/17/15)
  9. US Boosts Efforts to Help Syrian Refugees (Voice of America, 9/3/15) (half of refugees to US are children);
  10. Background Briefing on Refugee Screening and Admissions (Department of State, 11/17/15)
  11.  http://www.facebook.com/larryhoganmd/posts/1066737440037687
  12.  94 STAT. 102. PUBLIC LAW 96-212—MAR. 17, 1980. Public Law 96-212 (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/STATUTE-94/pdf/STATUTE-94-Pg102.pdf.)
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6 Responses to Proposed Syrian refugee resolution for the city of Takoma Park

  1. Pingback: Thomas Nephew on refugee resolution: “this – not fear, not hostility — is who we are” | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

  2. Pingback: Syrian refugee resolution supported at Takoma Park city council meeting | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

  3. Pingback: “Refugees Are Welcome Here” – Local Resolutions Fight Islamophobia

  4. Pingback: Thomas Nephew on refugee resolution: “maybe Gov.Hogan did something for us to be thankful for” | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

  5. Pingback: Sign up with “Maryland Welcomes Refugees” | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

  6. Pingback: Happy New Year! 2015 in review | Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

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