Turks in Russiaby Representative Steve Stivers
Posted on 2014-01-15
STIVERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to raise awareness of an
ongoing humanitarian crisis in southern Russia, and call on the State
Department to respond to that crisis.
In 2003, the United States State Department, responding to a humanitarian crisis against Ahiska Turks in southern Russia, designated Ahiska Turks as a special humanitarian concern for P-2 processing. As a result, between 2004 and 2007, roughly 12,000 Ahiska Turks arrived in the United States as refugees and settled in over 25 States, including a sizable community in my home State of Ohio.
Ahiska Turks, discriminated against, belittled and persecuted in Russia, are model citizens in the United States. In less than a decade, they have been able to fully integrate into American society. They have learned English, adapted to their new environment, educated their children and helped revitalize our neighborhoods.
They live the American Dream and strengthen American society by investing in their people and our cities. It is proven that this group is an asset to our community, as seen by the fact that over 50 percent of them are entrepreneurs and create jobs for others, including many Americans.
Ahiska Turks have shown that refugees can thrive and live the American Dream and help us grow our communities and our country. It is puzzling to me why the State Department abruptly ended this successful program.
There are roughly 80,000 Ahiska Turks who remain in southern Russia in difficult circumstances. The latest report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance cites the adverse environment for human rights organizations to even monitor the discrimination being suffered against Ahiska Turks in southern Russia, and acknowledges that the situation is ``very bad.'' I call on the State Department today to restart the P-2 program and respond to this ongoing humanitarian crisis.
I urge my colleagues to contact the U.S. State Department to restart the P-2 program for Ahiska Turks in Russia. This is a bipartisan issue where Congress can stand up for human rights and stand up for a persecuted group.