September 26, 2013 - 10:32 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote nearly six months ago to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to use her authority to extend humanitarian parole – which would provide a temporary visa for those in an emergency situation – to the estimated six thousand Syrian nationals with approved immigrant petitions. This would allow Syrians who have been waiting for a visa to reunite with their family members in the United States without delay. Of the fleeing refugees, members of religious minorities, including the country's Christian population, are especially at risk, and many have sought refuge in the United States.
Since writing to Secretary Napolitano, nearly six months has passed with no response from DHS to the letter signed by more than seventy members of Congress, and the conflict in Syria continues to worsen. This week, Reps. Schiff and Wolf wrote to the Acting Secretary of DHS and to the White House urging the administration to take immediate action.
“Since the civil war erupted in Syria nearly two years ago, violence has continued to escalate with each passing day, and we have seen our worst fears materialize with a tremendous loss of life, suffering and heartache,” said Rep. Schiff. “We wrote to Secretary Napolitano almost six months ago, urging her to take a simple action to do our part to help the Syrian refugee population. In 2010 when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the administration took action to help bring orphaned children to the U.S. We must act in this humanitarian crisis as well, and I hope that the administration will finally take action.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Schiff said in a statement that no population is more vulnerable than Syria’s religious minorities, including over a hundred thousand Armenians living in the country.
“From the beginning of the Syrian civil war, I have been monitoring closely the impact of the fighting and the disintegration of Syrian society on the country’s Christian minority, which is one of the oldest in the world. Armenian Christians, many of whose grandparents and great-grandparents settled in Syria to escape the Armenian Genocide almost a century ago are in particular jeopardy – caught between a regime that has protected Christian communities but used the most appalling violence against its own people, and an opposition that is populated in part by Islamic extremists bent on annihilating religious minorities,” Rep. Schiff said.
“As my staff and I have worked to try to obtain immigration visas for the family members of constituents who are living through the horror of this war, I have come to understand in the most personal terms the anxiety that so many in the Armenian diaspora feel as the events unfold in Syria. I, too, fear what could happen if the Syrian regime collapses precipitously, and have recoiled at reports of rebel attacks on Christian villages. The prospect of American-supplied weapons falling into extremist hands, and then being used against Syrian Christians and later against the west, is at the heart of my steadfast and public opposition to providing lethal arms to the rebels,” he said.