8 Powerful Remarks About Syrian Refugees That Are Exactly What The Nation Needs To Hear
Syrian refugees looking for safe haven now have another prominent defender: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Noting that it is “acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism,” the USCHMM said in a statement that “we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.” While it acknowledged that “security concerns must be fully addressed,” the museum nonetheless requested that public figures refrain from “condemning today’s refugees as a group.” It was one of the most impassioned defenses of Syrian refugees since the Paris attacks.
The Syrian refugee crisis has brought out a lot of ugly, paranoid nativism in American politicians and other public figures. Many Republicans have pounced on the issue, especially those running for president, and the House of Representatives passed a bill mandating harsher screening for Syrian refugees. In addition, over two dozen U.S. governors have announced that they won’t accept Syrian refugees — though these proclamations carry no legal weight at all and won’t actually prevent any refugees from settling in the states in question.
Nevertheless, there have been some glimmers of kindness, empathy, and open-heartedness amidst the fear-mongering. Let’s have a look at some of the public figures and organizations who’ve called on the U.S. to open its arms to Syrian refugees.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
These events test us. It is easy to proclaim that we are tough, and brave, and good-hearted when threats feel far away. But when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are. We face a choice. A choice either to lead the world by example, or turn our backs to the threats, and the suffering, around us ... We are a country of immigrants and refugees. A country made strong by our diversity. A country founded by those crossing the sea, fleeing religious persecution and seeking religious freedom. We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS’ murderers because some politician does not like their religion, and we are not a nation that backs down out of fear. — Speech on the Senate floor
United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops
I add my voice to all those condemning [the Paris] attacks and my support to all who are working to ensure such attacks do not occur again — both in France and around the world.
I am disturbed, however, by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves — violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.
Moreover, refugees to this country must pass security checks and multiple interviews before entering the United States — more than any arrival to the United States. It can take up to two years for a refugee to pass through the whole vetting process. We can look at strengthening the already stringent screening program, but we should continue to welcome those in desperate need. — Statement by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration
The Nation’s Mayors
As the mayors of cities across the country, we see first-hand the myriad ways in which immigrants and refugees make our communities stronger economically, socially and culturally. We will welcome the Syrian families to make homes and new lives in our cities. Indeed, we are writing to say that we stand ready to work with your Administration to do much more and to urge you to increase still further the number of Syrian refugees the United States will accept for resettlement ... Our cities have been transformed by the skills and the spirit of those who come to us from around the world. The drive and enterprise of immigrants and refugees have helped build our economies, enliven our arts and culture, and enrich our neighborhoods. — Letter to the Obama Administration from mayors of 18 U.S. cities
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee
I live on Bainbridge Island, this little island just west of Seattle. And it was the first place where we succumbed to fear in 1941 after Pearl Harbor. And we locked up Washington and American citizens, and we sent them to camps - Japanese-Americans ... [M]y neighbors were locked up by the federal government and sent to camps for years while their sons fought in the Army in Italy and were decorated fighting for democracy. We regret that. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we were as a country.
Vice President Joe Biden
What makes America is that everyone in this nation believes, at least did, and everyone seeking refuge in this nation believes, that this is the place where you have opportunity...It’s always been true in this country. And if we ever lose that, then we will have lost something incredibly special and consequential here in the United States. We’ll have lost the soul of the country, and I would argue we’re in danger of losing it now. — Speech at the Aspen Institute
What we did not do [after Sept. 11] is cower in fear and abandon our values. President George W. Bush deserves great credit for visiting a mosque just six days after 9/11 to make clear that while the United States would rightfully go to war, it was not a war against Islam. Those now casting suspicion upon an entire faith community with millions of adherents in the United States and billions across the world have forgotten that lesson. ISIS’ goal is to start a religious war, and some politicians are playing into their hands. — Op-ed piece published in The New York Daily News
President Barack Obama
The people who are fleeing Syria are the most harmed by terrorism, they are the most vulnerable as a consequence of civil war and strife. They are parents, they are children, they are orphans. And it is very important — and I was glad to see that this was affirmed again and again by the G20 — that we do not close our hearts to these victims of such violence and somehow start equating the issue of refugees with the issue of terrorism. — Press conference at the G20 summit in Turkey