News & Resources

The New Yorker: More Leadership Is Required in Response to Syrian Refugee Crisis

Today, The New Yorker published an extremely important piece by George Packer. In his commentary, Packer draws important parallels between America’s ongoing response to the Syrian crisis and its past responses to other refugee crises. “It’s easy to forget that every act of American generosity toward refugees has had to overcome stiff resistance based in ignorance,” Packer writes. “Historically, Presidential action has made the difference.”

Packer advocates for stronger leadership on the part of the United States, and President Obama in particular. Over the course of the piece, he highlights a number of issues that currently exacerbate the crisis, yet which have concrete and actionable solutions. These issues are at the core of IRAP’s current policy initiatives:

“It can take up to two years for Syrian refugees to be vetted. The ostensible reason for the delay is concern for national security, but in fact the obstacles are mostly bureaucratic. Throughout the region, refugee-processing centers are understaffed and underfunded. For more than a year, interviews with refugees in Lebanon—where a million displaced Syrians live—have been suspended while the U.S. Embassy undergoes renovations. The interviews could be conducted through video conferences; the State Department could deputize and train private organizations to carry out the initial screening and relieve overwhelmed United Nations field offices; the Administration could establish a visa program that would accelerate the petitions of Syrians with relatives in this country. These technical fixes would be relatively easy to make. The President could also declare a humanitarian emergency and, under the Refugee Act signed by Carter in 1980, increase the quota of refugees beyond the annual limit. What’s missing is political will.”

We’re thrilled to see a number of critical technical fixes spotlighted here. Read the full piece on the New Yorker website and please share this important commentary with your networks.