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Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL) has introduced H.R. 379, to assist members of the Yazidi and Christian communities residing in Iraq and Syria.

Although religious minority communities in liberated territory in Iraq and Syria are beginning to return home, there are a number of victims of genocide who have been subject to brutal crimes and who are seeking resettlement. IDC believes that the United States has an obligation to provide resettlement for individuals in these circumstances.
Despite the widespread acknowledgement of the genocidal threat faced by Christians, only a small number of Syrian Christians have been resettled in the United States.

U.S. federal law as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, advises that religious persecution ought to be taken into account when it comes to questions of asylum. After World War II, there were approximately 50 million refugees, and only a small fraction were Jews. Yet the world understood that Jews, who had survived genocide, faced a qualitatively different situation, and deserved heightened consideration.

The same is true today for the indigenous religious and ethnic minorities of the region. They have an indisputable right to live in their country – in whatever region of it they wish. Depending on the circumstances, this may mean where they are originally from, or where they find themselves now, but as survivors of an ongoing genocide, they deserve to be prioritized, not left behind by American policy decisions. This legislation would amend U.S. law to enable Iraqi and Syrian genocide survivors from religious and ethnic minority communities to access the overseas US government interview process for applicants to the US Refugee Admissions Program without needing a referral from the UN, and NGO, or the US government.

This is important because according to the U.S. State Department, of the roughly 20,000 Syrians referred to the U.S. for resettlement by the UN, less than 1% are non-Muslim religious minorities. This is because Christians and other minorities are not going to U.N. camps because they are often targeted for violence or because they fear sectarian retaliation.

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