Rep. Zeldin Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Preserve U.S. Heritage Abroad
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) announced the introduction of the Protecting U.S. Heritage Abroad Act (H.R. 2194), bipartisan legislation to expand the current mandate of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad to include the Middle East and North Africa and provide unimpeded access to the protected cemeteries, monuments and buildings within its purview.
The U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, in recognizing that the United States is a nation of immigrants and their descendants, seeks to preserve the heritage of these Americans in other countries. Originally established in the wake of the Holocaust, which forced many European Jews to flee their homeland, the Commission was established to continue to care for the communal properties left behind by these new Americans, by providing assistance to foreign officials and the Commission’s sponsorship or co-sponsorship of ongoing projects to preserve and protect these cultural sites.
Currently, the Commission’s mandate only extends to Europe, where the Commission has worked with over 25 countries. However, threats to these types of sites extend into the Middle East and North Africa, as we witness Christians and Jews being denied access to holy sites, such as the burial site of Rabbi Ephraim Alnaqua, one of the most prominent rabbis in Jewish history in Algeria, and a Christian graveyard in Kermanshah, Iran.
The Protecting U.S. Heritage Abroad Act (H.R. 2194), which is cosponsored by Lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul (R, TX-10) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL, D-23) would extend the current mandate of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad to include the Middle East and North Africa.
“The United States is a nation of immigrants with a rich heritage extending to every corner of our world,” said Congressman Zeldin. “Whether they came to our nation fleeing persecution or for a better life for their children, so many Americans left behind the remains of loved ones, cultural landmarks and oftentimes sacred sites fundamental to their identity and heritage. In preserving the cultural diversity of all Americans, we must protect this heritage and the sacred sites around the world intertwined with it.”