As an immigration attorney – no, strike that – as a citizen of the United States, I could not be more disappointed in or dumfounded by the response of the 30 or so state governors who have decided to “refuse” to accept Syrian refugees in their states. Leaving aside the fact that these governors have exactly no legal authority to overrule or undermine the Federal government on the issue of immigration, the entire premise itself is utterly absurd.
In response to the horrific criminal acts of terrorism carried out in Paris on November 13, 2015, the political right in this country, including Maryland’s own governor, Larry Hogan, has decided to vilify an entire population of people who themselves had exactly nothing to do with the Paris terror attacks. As of this writing, none of the alleged attackers have been identified as Syrian, let alone are they suspected of having crossed into Europe from Syria under cover as refugees.
Even so, the refugee resettlement program in the United States is perhaps the most strenuous of any of the country’s various immigration programs. As David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, wrote in a recent New York Daily News op-ed, “[t]here are many ways to come to the United States. Comparatively the refugee resettlement program is the most difficult short of swimming the Atlantic.”
Finally, as has been pointed out by many commenters already, refugees from Syria are fleeing the exact type of violence and extremism on display in Paris last week. Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, estimates are that nearly 12 million Syrians have been displaced, with more than half of those children; nearly 4 million Syrians have fled their country; and nearly 240,000 people have been killed. This is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. For the United States (of all places) to turn its back and cower in xenophobic fear is disgraceful; even more so when such a reaction makes no logical sense.
The political reaction in the United States to the Paris attacks is completely and unapologetically unmoored from any sense of reality or decency. And it isn’t just a bunch of cowardly governors. Every Republican presidential candidate, and now a majority of the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives, has come out in support of stopping Syrian refugee resettlements in the United States. By (stark) contrast, French President Francois Hollande announced yesterday that his country would respect its commitment to continue to take in Syrian refugees, calling it a “humanitarian duty.”
From 1952 to 1960, a Republican was President of the United States, when a communist dictator took control of Cuba and sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing to the United States in search of refuge. It’s a good thing for at least one current Republican presidential candidate that the United States recognized its humanitarian duty then.
If only we could be so decent and courageous now.
Original post at http://asyleewomen.tumblr.com/