The U.S. can also ensure that humanitarian aid sent to the Kurdish Regional Government "actually reaches" the displaced persons there, he added, and that genocide victims who fled to Kurdistan have access to schools and jobs there.
Also, genocide survivors cannot be at the "back of the line" in the U.S. refugee resettlement process, he added, noting that for fiscal year 2016, of the 1,366 Syrian refugees set for admittance "fewer than three percent came from the groups targeted for genocide."
The U.S. must help Christians resettle elsewhere if they want, but also help them stay, he continued, adding that it is in the security interest of the U.S. to keep the Middle Eastern Christian communities intact. Religious pluralism will crumble if they leave, he said.
Lack of religious freedom and pluralism were the "genocidal antecedents" of the Islamic State, he continued, and the U.S. cannot beat IS without solving these problems. Religious minorities cannot have "second-class status," he said: the "antidote is full equality in law and practice."
The State Department must also designate Syria and Iraq as "Countries of Particular Concern" where there are "systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom" that have been either perpetrated or tolerated by the government, George insisted. To do so would show "fidelity to the truth", he added.
The designation is made by the State Department to point to the worst violators of religious freedom abroad. It can carry consequences such as adopting economic sanctions against the country until its situation improves.
Just moments before at the hearing, the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein, had defended the State Department's lack of such a designation in the past for Iraq. The law "does not talk about non-state actors" perpetrating the crimes, just governments, he said.
The current Iraqi government "clearly has made an effort to try and stop Daesh," he said. "On that basis in past years, the determination was made that it did not rise to that level." He added that the agency will make "new determinations" shortly.
George also insisted that the U.S. could make a goal of resettling 100,000 Syrian refugees within its borders, with the "strictest vetting" and a "prioritization on vulnerability," such as candidates who were abused, enslaved, or tortured. The. U.S. should also allocate sufficient resources to the agencies responsible for the vetting of refugees, he said.
"The public needs to support this," he said, but they won't if they think national security will be compromised in the process. "It's not that they're cruel, it's not that they lack compassion. They have legitimate concerns about security," he admitted. "We believe those concerns can be met."
"And we think we can make the process more expeditious if we make sure that the funding is there for the security checks to be done in a comprehensive and effective way."
(Story continues below)
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