I am disgusted with the knee-jerk reaction of American leaders and so many citizens to the Paris attacks by ISIS. There is so much misinformation going around right now about the U.S. refugee resettlement program. The truth is, it is easier for a terrorist to get into the U.S. on a tourist visa then for them to enter as a refugee. Why would they go to the trouble of disguising themselves as a refugee, when they could enter almost any other way?
I urge you to write to your U.S. Representatives and Senators to implore them not to “pause” refugee resettlement or increase the security screenings. This would be devastating for so many people who have been waiting for years and gone through dozens of screenings, interviews, health exams, etc. already. These are people who have been through hell, have had to flee their homelands for fear of being killed, and have been living in less-than-desirable conditions in refugee camps. Many refugees are trying to re-unite with their families who are already in the U.S.
Pausing the refugee program in the U.S. would not make us safer. And it would cause an incredible amount of chaos and disruption for national and international organizations who work tirelessly to help refugees resettle.
France isn’t stopping to welcome Syrian refugees into their country, even after the attacks. Why would we react any other way? (Watch this video.)
Look-up and contact your representatives in the U.S. Congress here.
Here are some facts about the Syrian refugee situation from Arrive Ministries, a refugee resettlement agency in Minnesota where I serve on the Board of Directors.
- Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror which unfolded on the streets of Paris. They have been confronted by violence just like this for almost five years. They do not bring terror with them. Rather, they are fleeing it.
- The United States handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and they go through multiple layers of security checks, making them the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the United States. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies.
- This is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while continuing to ensure our own security. We must do both.
- States cannot unilaterally block resettlement. Governors do not have the legal authority to determine who lives in their states. Syrian refugees are legally admitted to the United States and therefore have the right to move freely throughout the country. Suggesting otherwise is an attack on fundamental rights that we as Americans hold true and is against everything that we stand for.
- We urge public officials to avoid knee-jerk reactions that politicize the events in Paris, to reject misplaced blame that creates an atmosphere of fear, and to stand in solidarity with Syrian refugees, who are themselves the victims of ISIS.
- The United States resettles refugees of all faiths. Keeping Syrian refugees out of this country based on their religion sends the wrong message to the rest of the world about who we are as Americans. We are a welcoming country with a religiously diverse society and our resettlement program should continue to reflect this. To not do so only feeds into ISIS’ propaganda and makes us all less safe.
And if that’s not enough, consider this message from a 1938 poster created by Episcopal Migration Ministries: