MFA Calls Ban on Refugee Resettlement Misinformed and Fear-Based



New York, NY – January 30, 2017 – In his Executive Order, the President has called for a complete halt to Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S. The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) considers such a policy to be driven by misinformation and misconceptions that are based on three great fears that impede rational and humane refugee resettlement: economic impact, terrorism and Islamophobia. America’s resettlement policy would be far better served by the facts.

Economic Impact: The misconception that Syrian refugees are welfare dependent and will be a drain on the economy is simply untrue.

  • Syrians are a skilled, educated population who tend to be entrepreneurial. They start new businesses -- providing goods, services, and jobs to Americans. The 86,000 first generation Syrian immigrants who have been living in the U.S. prior to the Syrian civil war are more highly educated than the U.S. norm and have the highest average income of any foreign groups. They include 4,000 Syrian doctors, who are very successful and philanthropic (Migration Policy Institute [MPI]; National Arab American Medical Association).

  • Most refugees are employed within 180 days of entering the U.S. (International Rescue Committee).

  • Refugees are successful at revitalizing once declining areas into thriving neighborhoods. Resettling them is not only compassionate; it is a benefit to our economy. (CATO Institute, Niskanen Center).

Terrorism: Similarly, the fear that by admitting refugees we will be importing terrorism is unfounded.

  • The United States already has in place the most stringent refugee security screening in the world, as acknowledged by former leaders of the nation’s military and security organizations -- for both parties (Niskanen).

  • Typically, it takes 18 months to two years to screen and vet each refugee before he or she sets foot on American soil. The process includes multiple layers of interviews and background security checks by nine U.S. law enforcement agencies, as well as medical and biometric screening (US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants).

  • The chance of being killed in a terrorist incident in U.S. by the holder of a refugee visa is one in 3.6 billion per year in contrast. The odds of being killed by a native-born American are 263% higher (CATO Institute).

  • No act of terrorism in the U.S. has been connected to a Syrian refugee (MPI).

Islamophobia: Proponents of a ban also believe that Syrian refugees, i.e. Muslims, will change the nature of the U.S.

  • In the six years since the Syrian war began only 18,600 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S. This comprises less than 1/2 of .0001% of the total U.S. population (MPI).

  • Contrary to the prevailing narrative, U.S. Muslims are rapidly adopting the social and political views of Americans, and their religious views are shifting to accommodate more moderate values (Gallup, Pew).

  • Giving refuge to those fleeing terrorism, radical regimes, and war and allowing them to build new lives fosters patriotism and loyalty (Niskanen).

The post-World War II promise, “Never Again,” is being violated. We cannot stand idly by as victims of war and terror suffer and perish because of unfounded fear and prejudice. MFA Founder, Dr. Georgette F. Bennett lamented: “Banning the resettlement of Syrian refugees, 80% of whom are women and children, violates the most basic principles of the world’s major religions. Moreover, it dishonors our core values as Americans, undermines our moral authority as a world leader, destabilizes our allies, and threatens national security by feeding into the ISIS narrative that we are at war with Islam.”

Resettlement is in our national interest. The United States is a nation of immigrants, enriched and strengthened by its diversity. Islamophobia and religious tests for immigrants have no place here. Our America is a multicultural society that embraces all faiths and nationalities. That is a national policy worthy of our country.



The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA), a project of the Tides Center in cooperation with JDC, is a coalition of more than 75 faith-based and secular organizations. Our mission is to mobilize global support to alleviate the Syrian humanitarian crisis, heighten awareness of the growing dangers of not responding adequately, and advance future stability in the region. MFA conducts crisis-related briefings in the U.S. and abroad, facilitates relationships between complementary partner organizations working to help Syrian war victims, and nurtures transformative people-to-people diplomacy in the region.


Marlene Adler,, Phone: (212) 889-2324