On World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins nearly 70 Members of Congress in Bicameral Letter Urging Administration to Consider Palestinians Fleeing Gaza for Refugee Status

Jun 20, 2024
Press

**For Immediate Release**

Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov 

Vaibhav Vijay, Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov 

On World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Summer Lee Joins nearly 70 Members of Congress in Bicameral Letter Urging Administration to Consider Palestinians Fleeing Gaza for Refugee Status

PITTSBURGH, PA – June 20, 2024  – Today, on World Refugee Day, Congresswoman Lee joined nearly 70 members of Congress in sending a bicameral letter urging the Biden Administration to consider refugee status for groups of Palestinians fleeing Gaza—namely those with U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident family members. In the letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, the lawmakers expressed strong support for a Priority-2 (P-2) designation under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for Palestinians who are affected by the ongoing violence in Gaza and are relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The Administration is reportedly considering this designation.

Congresswoman Lee said, “As we observe World Refugee Day today, the suffering of Palestinian families in Gaza who are enduring relentless violence and profound hardship cannot be ignored. As someone committed to human rights and justice, I urge the Administration to extend a lifeline to those Palestinians by considering them under the Priority-2 designation. This isn’t just about policy—it’s about compassion, about reuniting families, and about upholding our values as a nation. This policy change would not only save lives but also reaffirm our nation’s commitment to human dignity and international solidarity.”

“Since the outbreak of the conflict in Gaza, many congressional offices have received distressing requests for assistance from constituents desperately seeking to reunite with their loved ones. We appreciate the steps that the Biden Administration has taken to evacuate American citizens from Gaza. However, without pathways for Americans to petition for their relatives in Gaza, countless families with strong ties to our nation remain stranded in life-threatening conditions,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to consider opening pathways to Palestinian refugees, particularly those with family members in the United States, to seek relief in the United States.”

The letter notes that, historically, the U.S. has resettled very few Palestinian refugees, including only 56 refugees, or 0.09 percent of the total number of resettled refugees, in fiscal year 2023 and only 16 so far in fiscal year 2024. 

The lawmakers continued, “Given the dire conditions currently on the ground in Gaza, it is time for this to change. Specifically, we urge you to designate certain categories of Palestinians and their eligible family members, particularly close relatives of American citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents, for access to the USRAP.”

The USRAP has long provided a secure pathway to resettle refugees in the United States, with the most rigorous vetting of any traveler coming to the U.S. All individuals who are considered for refugee status in the U.S. must not only demonstrate their eligibility, but also complete a USCIS interview, provide biometric data, and pass both medical exams and strict security screening prior to approval to come to the United States. Moreover, national security and foreign policy experts have long viewed the refugee program as a valuable tool for the United States to decompress conflicts abroad, strengthen regional stability, and set an example for other countries.  

The lawmakers concluded, “We believe the time has come for the United States to lead in this manner and grant a P-2 designation for refugee processing for certain Palestinians who are relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and are affected by the ongoing violence.”

The letter is endorsed by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Federation of Ramallah Palestine, Arab Americans 4Ward, Church World Service, CommonDefense.us, Demand Progress, Dream Defenders, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Human Rights First, IfNotNow Movement, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Immigration Hub, International Refugee Assistance Project, J Street, MPower Change Action Fund, Muslim Advocates, National Iranian American Council Action (NIAC), National Partnership for New Americans, Peace Action, Project Immigration Justice for Palestinians (Project IJP),  RootsAction, Sunrise Movement, U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), Win Without War, and World Beyond War.

Along with Congresswoman Lee, the letter is signed by U.S. Representatives Greg Casar (D-TX-35), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-06), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA-07), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Don Beyer (VA-08), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), André Carson (IN-07), Sean Casten (IL-06), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Jonathan Jackson (IL-01), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Dan Kildee (MI-08), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04),  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Scott Peters (CA-50), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Linda Sánchez (CA-38), Mary Scanlon (PA-05), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam Smith (WA-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), and Nydia Velàzquez (NY-07).

The letter is also signed by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

Full text of the letter is available here


Since taking office in January 2023, Lee, who serves on the House Oversight Committee and Space, Science and Technology Committee, has delivered historic levels of federal investment totaling over $1.85 Billion brought back to Western PA, including over $580 million for infrastructure, over $110 million for affordable transit, over $500 million to keep clean energy manufacturing at home in Pennsylvania, and over $55 million on clean energy efforts in and around schools to help keep our kids and communities safe. These investments will help improve Western Pennsylvania’s infrastructure and transit, ensure cleaner air and drinking water, lower housing costs, fund research institutions, fuel clean manufacturing, fund STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, boost workforce development, and create thousands of good paying union jobs.  Lee and her team have also delivered casework and constituent services to over 2,300 constituents with issues ranging from helping our seniors and disabled community access Medicare and social security to helping folks secure housing and helping families with immigration support and passports.

###

Recent Posts


Jul 18, 2024
Press

Congresswoman Summer Lee Celebrates Over $6.6 Million for Sustainable Construction Initiatives Through EPA Grant

**For Immediate Release** Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov  Vaibhav Vijay, Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov  Congresswoman Summer Lee Celebrates Over $6.6 Million for Sustainable Construction Initiatives Through EPA Grant Pittsburgh, PA – July 18, 2024 – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee proudly announces the allocation of $6,639,427 to the Building Materials Reuse Association (Build Reuse) as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection […]



Jul 16, 2024
Press

Congresswoman Summer Lee, ACE Innamorato & Heritage Community Initiatives Celebrate a Quarter Century of Transportation Service

**For Immediate Release** Kyla Gill, Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov  Vaibhav Vijay, Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov  Congresswoman Summer Lee, ACE Innamorato & Heritage Community Initiatives Celebrate a Quarter Century of Transportation Service Pittsburgh, PA – July 16, 2024 – Today, Congresswoman Summer Lee joined County Executive Sara Innamorato, Paula McWilliams, President and CEO of Heritage Community Initiatives, and other local officials and […]



Jul 15, 2024
Press

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TOMORROW FROM 11:30 – 1:00 PM: Congresswoman Summer Lee, ACE Innamorato & Heritage Community Initiatives to Mark a Quarter Century of Transportation Service

**FOR PLANNING PURPOSES**  Contact: Kyla.Gill@mail.house.gov | 412.841.7913 Vaibhav.Vijay@mail.house.gov | 771.215.7243 MEDIA ADVISORY FOR TOMORROW FROM 11:30 – 1:00 PM: Congresswoman Summer Lee, ACE Innamorato & Heritage Community Initiatives to Mark a Quarter Century of Transportation Service RSVP HERE On Tuesday, July 16, Congresswoman Summer Lee will join Heritage Community Transportation (HCT) to mark 25 years […]