USCIRF Hearing on Refugees Fleeing Religious Persecution

Feb 10


Feb 10th 10:30am - Feb 10th 12:30pm


U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Hearing

Refugees Fleeing Religious Persecution

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Virtual Hearing

Hearing Transcript
Hearing Summary

Please join the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for a virtual hearing about ways the U.S. government can better protect and support individuals fleeing religious persecution through the U.S. refugee resettlement program, the U.S. asylum system, and overseas assistance.

The United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) has been a critical pathway for refugees seeking safety in the United States. Since its creation through the Refugee Act of 1980, three million refugees have been resettled in this country. Today, however, there are 1.4 million extremely vulnerable refugees who urgently need to be resettled, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), many of whom have fled religious persecution. Overall, UNHCR estimates that as of the end of 2019, an unprecedented 79.5 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced—many in less developed countries that are struggling to host them—by conflict, persecution, or for other reasons. Managing this crisis will require the U.S. government to invest in refugee resettlement, improve its processing of asylum seekers, review vetting procedures, and improve its humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, and the countries hosting them, abroad.

Witnesses will provide an overview of U.S. refugee resettlement, asylum, and humanitarian aid policies and present recommendations for improving these programs to better protect the most vulnerable.

Opening Remarks


  • Jenny Yang, Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, World Relief
    Written Testimony
  • Mark Hetfield, President and CEO, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
    Written Testimony
  • Leon Rodriguez, Immigration Attorney, Seyfarth; former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    Written Testimony
  • Elizabeth Neumann, Senior Advisor, National Immigration Forum; former Assistant Secretary for Threat Prevention and Security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    Written Testimony
  • Murad Ismael, Co-founder and former Executive Director, Yazda
    Written Testimony

Witnesses’ Bios


Submitted for the Record:

Boat People SOS and Jubilee Campaign

Uyghur Human Rights Project


This hearing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the public, and the media. Members of the media should register online and can email for any questions or to schedule an interview. The video recording of the hearing will be posted on the Commission website. For any additional questions, please contact Nina Ullom at or (202) 322-0232.