Washington, D.C. – October 28, 2015 — A letter that was spearheaded by the Niskanen Center was sent to President Barack Obama today, urging him to create a new privately-funded refugee category to allow Americans to resettle more refugees with private donations. The letter is signed by a number of prominent Syrian, Arab, Turkish, and Muslim American organizations.

“This letter shows that the American people most impacted by this crisis want to be part of the solution,” said David Bier, Niskanen’s Director of Immigration Policy. “Americans are ready to open their homes and wallets to these desperate people if the administration would create the opportunity. Why would we place an arbitrary limit on Americans’ private generosity?”

Since introducing the idea in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last month, the Niskanen Center has worked with the Syrian American Council to mobilize these groups to support this initiative. These groups are: the Syrian American Medical Society, Syria Relief and Development, the Arab American Institute, the Turkish Heritage Organization, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of North America, the Karam Foundation, and Watan USA.

Following Niskanen’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, a key bipartisan group in Congress, including Sen. Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Ranking Member of Judiciary Subcommittee, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, have all expressed interest in this private initiative.

“In past crises, presidents opened a privately-funded refugee category to encourage the private sector to save the lives of refugees around the world,” Bier said. “The president has no reason to reject this request today. We are simply asking for the opportunity to extend the reach of American philanthropy to those fleeing persecution and violence.”

Established in 2014, the Niskanen Center is a libertarian 501(c) (3) advocacy organization that works to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.

Contact: Louisa Tavlas
Director of Communications, Niskanen Center