There are three basic arguments against blocking Syrian refugees from entering the United States, after the extensive screening already taking place:
1. It’s exactly what Daesh wants. That’s a rather persuasive arguments against equating refugees with terrorists, for me. The identified Paris attackers were not refugees, and the Syrian passport, conveniently found near one of the attack sites, was most likely a fake.
Daesh has been recruiting people that are already citizens in their target country. As my former TU blogging colleague Kevin Marshall notes: “Planting operatives among Syrian refugees that have to undergo vetting processes, scrutiny, and no resources for them once they reach their uncertain destination? Not only is that the opposite of their modus operandi, it’s also a really dumb, convoluted plan with unnecessary obstacles. It’s like the Rube Goldberg Device of terrorist plots.”
Yet at least 30 governors say they want to close their states to Syrian refugees. Presidential candidates are talking about shutting down mosques (that would be D. Trump) and discriminating against refugees on the basis of religion. Members of Congress are threatening to cut off funding for refugee assistance while four million Syrian refugees are desperate to get away from a civil war not of their own making.
In other words, to quote the cliche from dozen years ago, “We’re letting the terrorists win.” Or as Robert Reich put it, channeling FDR, we’d be “fearing fear itself.” (Which FDR himself succumbed to with the Japanese interment, one of the most shameful acts in American history.)
2. It falls desperately short of the American ideal. To quote Andrew Cuomo, which I VERY seldom do: “We have to protect Americans and not lose our soul as America in the process.”
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
—Emma Lazarus, 1883
When we close our borders, and stop letting in those that need our help enter this country, we make a mockery of the inscription of that beacon of hope, the Statue of Liberty, and as Cuomo noted, “I say take down the Statue of Liberty because you’ve gone to a different place.”
And I get to agree with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) when he notes, about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) suggestion to favor Christian refugees from Syria over Muslims, “I don’t think any child, whether they are Christian or whether they are atheist or whether they are Buddhist, that we should make a distinction,” McCain said. “My belief is that all children are God’s children.”
Plus, resettlement in the U.S. is a long process as it is. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States. John Oliver explains this.
We should not respond with hysteria. Here are some things ordinary people can do to restore sanity.
Imagine a poor Middle Eastern couple, the woman very pregnant, with no place to stay. Recall how the child who would be born grows up to say, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Here are some other Bible verses about how to treat refugees. If we claim to be Christians, and ignore this invocation, we might as well keep those creches in their storage boxes this Advent season.
When I posted the Resolution for Protection and Hospitality for Syrian Refugees from the Albany (NY) Presbytery on Facebook, I was told, “I think you’ve just glossed over just about everything that [a lengthy rationale from a third party] has said in favour of blind faith.” To which I replied, “I guess I’m just trying to literally respond to WWJD.” Check out Stephen Colbert’s response.
Or, in the words of The Thinking Atheist: “Why are we so quick to see the ugly…when we stand before the beautiful?”
Remember this Thanksgiving:
Thanksgiving explanations from Anglophenia