An Open Letter to the U.S. Senate re: HR 4038 – American SAFE Act of 2015

Dear Senators:

We urge you to vote “No” on H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015. We also condemn the xenophobic rhetoric that has marked this debate from the start.

Refugees to the United States, particularly those of Syrian origin, are already subject to some of the most stringent security screening procedures in the world. They must first be cleared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and are then required to go through an extensive vetting process, which includes independent background checks by U.S. federal agencies, biometric screening, terrorism database searches, and investigations into personal ties, places of employment and sites of worship. This process takes 12 to 18 months for non-Syrian refugees, and Syrian refugees can wait three years or longer due to added background checks required by the Syria Enhanced Review process.

Many refugees are forced to live in dangerous conditions in overcrowded and underfunded refugee camps as they wait. Instead of fixing the inefficiencies that lead to this unacceptable delay, this bill imposes additional hurdles such as unanimous approval by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on a Syrian refugee’s application. These will not make us safer, but will deny protection to vulnerable refugees who will continue to be exposed to harm. Imposing such prohibitive bureaucratic red tape on already overburdened procedures could effectively halt Syrian refugee admission into the United States, in violation of U.S. international treaty obligations and our moral obligations as a nation.  

The shocking and tragic events that took place in Paris, Beirut, and elsewhere are a sobering reminder that how we choose to respond to these atrocities is the ultimate test of our character as a nation. As a country that prides itself in being a nation of immigrants, we cannot succumb to hatred in the name of security. We cannot sacrifice our most fundamental values by adopting a rhetoric of fear and closing our doors to the victims of the same terrorist acts we condemn. We should be doing more, not less, to help those in need of a safe haven.

We stand with refugees from all over the world. We ask that you do the same by voting “No” on the SAFE Act of 2015.


Harvard Immigration Project


Michelle Ha

Dami Animashaun

William Winn

Seth Motel

Alexandra Fischbein

Carson Cook

David Kimball-Stanley

Jacob Newman

Vivian Dong

Elizabeth Curran

Alice Reichman

Keahav Dimri

Andrew Lewis

Melissa Verrilli

Johan Lievens

Joanna Cornell

Marissa Leonce

Alexander Andresian

Joseph Milner

Annaleigh Curtis

Nicholas Ruge

William Organek

Sara Schaumburg

Danait Mengist

Kezmen Clifton

Michael Wysolmerski

Melissa Freeman

George Hageman

Brianna Rennix

Dia Rasinariu

Kyle Strickland

Shlomo Fellig

Arun Bodapati

Marlen Thaten

Harold Lee

Anna Joseph

Lisa Fitzgerald

Mark Hamlin

Roi Bachmutsky

Francis Igiriogu

Paige von Mehren

Lena Borislavova

Anna Byers

Tonia Barnett

Jacob Chefitz

Yehoshua Komarovsky

Peter Chi

Sean Ouellette

Tori Anderson

Emily Hogin

Amanda Lamothe-Cadet

Henry Druschel

Ming Cheung

Alicia Daniel

Christian Williams

Elizabeth Reese

Emma Scott

Rebecca Johnson

Jevhon Rivers

Julie Hamilton

Hanne Sandison

Colin Reeves

Rabiat Akande

Evan Mann

Sarah Gutman

Phoebe Yu

Nathan Burcham

Steven Salcedo

Keira Grimes

Marissa Florio

Christina Lee

Stefano Sharma

Forrest McClellen

Jeffrey Zink

Pa Vang

Torrance Castellano

David Hotelling

Michael Shammas

Jacob Hanna

Brian Klosterboer

Erum Sattar

Isaac Saidel-Goley

Meaghan Kerin

Isabel Broer

Gabrielle Hodgson

Madeleine Joseph

David Kafafian

Pamela Yaacoub

Leora Smith

Naomi Campbell

Jacqueline Trudeau

Marien Rivera

Jane McGraw

Alice Wang

Lisa Gluckstein

Dayne Lee

Emily Graham

Joon Lee

Schuyler Daum

Zacharia Chibane

Sarah Loucks

Matthew Reardon

Patrick Kibbe

Rebecca Chang

Kyle Sandison

Robert Seaney

Patricia Alejandro

Patrick Grubel

Jessie Stefanik

Jeewon Choi

Corey Linehan

Helen Rave

Susan Zhu

Daniel McGrath

Nancy Pinn

Caroline Cox

Alice Cherry

Tess Peacock

Tyler Vigen

Steven Wilfong

Monica Wilk

Lauren Blodgett

Jonathan Vruwink

Sam Feldman

David Hanno

David Clark

Anna Andreeva

Keaton Allen-Gessesse

Sara Dewey

Mariam Boxwala

Tess Hellgren

Melanie Emmen

Daniel Groh-Wargo

Colin Ross

Andrew Hanson

Austin Steelman

Asiya Ubaid

Seung Wan (Andrew) Paik

Nathan MacKenzie

Matthew Lee

Laura Gault

Lauren Lemonious

Zain Jinnah

Zoe Bedell

Clarissa Lehne

Rauvin Johl

Seevun Kozar

Lauren Godles

Renée Gagné

Mana Azarmi

Melissa Mikail

Olga Slobodyanyuk

Nadia Farjood

Peyton Lee

Alice Prinsley

You may sign the letter here. Signatures included in the letter as posted include those made by November 26, 2015, and the final letter will include more signatures. 

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