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  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on the Judiciary
      Immigration and Border Security
      House Committee on Foreign Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 13th, 2017

What is it?

This bill would recognize that Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, and Libya are the targets of genocide and provide them with expedited visa processing if they seek to come to the U.S. as a refugee or immigrant.

The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would provide ensure that applications from such Christians and Yazidis are given first priority among refugee applications in addition to the expedited visa processing.

Impact

Christians and Yazidis who last lived in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, and Libya; and DHS.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: In introducing this bill on the House floor during the 114th Congress, sponsoring Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called his legislation “imperative” in protecting Middle Eastern Christian and Yazidi communities from further acts of genocide:

“Ancient longstanding communities of Christians in the Middle East are being murdered individually and en masse, targeted for extinction. Under President Obama’s leadership, our government has stood by impotently and watched this crime against humanity.”

This legislation has the support of five cosponsors in the House, all of whom are Republicans.

Of Note: During the 114th Congress, the House passed a resolution declaring that Christians and Yazidis are the victims of genocide on a 393-0 vote.

The U.N. Genocide Convention defines genocide as the following:

“Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

The decision of whether to designate a situation as “genocide” can be a politically contentious decision. The federal government doesn’t formally recognize the Armenian genocide due to its relations with the government of Turkey, although 43 U.S. states and 23 countries have called it genocide.

During the Clinton administration, the U.S. was slow to respond to the Rwandan Genocide as it developed, and as many as one million people were killed in the span of several months. Former President Bill Clinton has expressed deep regret over his failure to mobilize a timely intervention, estimating that doing so may have saved at least 300,000 lives.

The Obama administration declined to call the situation facing ethnic and religious minorities in Syria and Iraq a genocide until March 17, 2016 when Secretary of State John Kerry called it a genocide. The State Department was required to consider designating the situation as a genocide by a provision in the December 2015 omnibus appropriations bill that give the agency 90 days to make a determination.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Defend International / Creative Commons)

AKA

Save Christians from Genocide Act

Official Title

To recognize that Christians and Yazidis in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, and Libya are targets of genocide, and to provide for the expedited processing of immigrant and refugee visas for such individuals, and for other purposes.

    Regardless of religion, if a group is a victim of genocide, they need special care and attention. Passing this law would hopefully set a precedent for the US to take action to protect other groups who are victims of genocide in the future.
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    As much as I feel for them, this is a slippery slope. This is unfair to other ethnic and religious groups.
    Like (878)
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    The majority of these populations are in areas like Damascus, away from major conflict zones. The most vulnerable people should be prioritized, regardless of religion.
    Like (692)
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    We cannot put any religion first.
    Like (434)
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    By prioritizing one group of people above others in an attempt to abate their targeted genocide we are in effect targeting the other refugees in the region for violence. Not to mention that we will be creating a reason for their radicalization. If the goal is to stop radicalism and violence, it should be a goal applied to all peoples seeking refuge.
    Like (404)
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    "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Refugees should be accepted based on the likelihood that they'll face persecution in their home country. We should not prioritize the acceptance of any one group over another based on their religion. Besides, the fact that they face persecution based on their religion is already taken into account when they apply for refugee status.
    Like (322)
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    What about Shiite Muslims? They've gotten the worst of the ISIS terror. Are they not included or considered since they are Muslim?
    Like (181)
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    If there are Muslims targeted for genocide in those countries they should also be given priority. I don't want a repeat of what happened in the late 1930s when the world turned its back on the Jews of Europe.
    Like (130)
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    The system of vetting out refugees in most need should not be dependent on religious beliefs. Preferential treatment should be given to any human seeking asylum for their safety regardless of who they pray to.
    Like (106)
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    Yes of course but so should all others regardless of religion that are suffering because of ISIS
    Like (87)
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    No decisions based on religion should be permitted. Unconstitutional!
    Like (81)
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    We should not discriminate based on religion. All who are threatened should be eligible for refugee status.
    Like (80)
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    Anyone who is in clear and present danger deserves protection. Specifying a religion or group as "more important" is ridiculous.
    Like (64)
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    All lives matter, remember...so no...refugees are refugees and do not need a religious test to come to America No
    Like (62)
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    Religion shouldn't be a factor.
    Like (53)
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    During WWII, we didn't take Jews and we didn't take Nazis. We've seen how treating the oppressed the same as the oppressor ends up, and this same thing is happening in ISIS territory.
    Like (48)
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    Priority for refugees should not be based on religion.
    Like (44)
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    This is blatant Un-American discrimination.
    Like (39)
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    A certain group is being targeted. Religion doesn't matter. The group that is being targeted/murdered should get priority. Did they Jews deserve priority during the holocaust? Of course.
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    During the holocaust, christians were persecuted for helping the Jews or even for not serving the nazi party. Hopefully there would have still been a priority to get Jews, the target of genocide, out of danger even though christians were at risk of being persecuted by nazis as well.
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