CA Senate Becomes First Legislative Body to Pass Syrian Refugee Resolution

September 11, 2015

SACRAMENTO, CA –The California State Senate today approved Senate Resolution 52 by a unanimous bipartisan vote of 40-0 which urges the President and Congress to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted in the United States in light of the deadly humanitarian crisis. Below are Senator Lara’s remarks delivered tonight on the Senate Floor: 

“SR 52 urges the President and Congress to increase the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. Since 2011 Syria has been in a bloody civil war. Almost five years later, hundreds of thousands are dead and violence continues to escalate in the country. More than 4 million refugees have fled Syria to escape violence. 

Just last week 71 Syrian bodies were found decomposing in an abandoned poultry truck in Austria, we learned of two boats carrying up to 500 migrants that capsized off the coast of Libya. 200 bodies were found floating in the water. As of today, the U.S. has accepted less than 1,500 of these refugees.

This is paltry when compared to the number of refugees in need of asylum. 

The U.S. is a country of immigrants from diverse backgrounds, which has contributed to the economic and social strength of our nation. California in particular has historically has been defined by immigration – for decades, our immigrant communities have enabled our agricultural, manufacturing, tech, and many other sectors to flourish. Some of America’s most driven, innovative leaders have come to this country fleeing conflict abroad. Steve Jobs, a child of a Syrian migrant himself, created once of the most successful and profitable companies in the world. Countless leaders– even some of us here serving in the Senate are immigrants or children of immigrants.   

The U.S. accepted refugees from Hungary in the 1950s, from Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, from Cuba and Russia in the 1980s, among many others. These people have contributed to the rich fabric of our society and on us and made us better as a country. We have a moral obligation to welcome these innocent civilian refugees. Some European and Middle Eastern countries have stepped up to the plate and are welcoming migrants, others have refused all together. There have been widespread discussions of accepting only Christian refugees, a policy that Slovakia has implemented and other countries are considering. Choosing who lives or dies based on religion is a very frightening thought, if we stop to think about it members. 

The vast majority of the people who have left Syria wish they never had to and wish they could go back- but had to leave to give their children a chance to live and grow up in peace and without the threat of imminent violence. In the midst of one of the worst humanitarian crisis’s  since World War II, the United States cannot sit back allow refugees to languish. We need to play a leadership role in preserving life and dignity and welcoming refugees. 

Thank you and I respectfully request an ‘aye’ vote.”