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Refugee Advocates Decry Backlash Against Refugees following Paris Terror Attacks

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, November 17, a coalition of humanitarian and refugee resettlement leaders responded to the latest calls to stop the admission of Syrian refugees and explained why they believe that the US should show leadership in the face of what they claim is a global crisis. The Director of Migration Policy at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Kevin Appleby said, “The refugees fleeing violence in Syria want the same thing Americans do—to protect their children and to live in safety.  More than any nation on earth, America has understood the plight of the refugee and offered safe haven to those who are simply attempting to survive.   To turn our backs now on this history and heritage diminishes our standing and moral leadership in the world and our ability to bring nations together to address this humanitarian crisis.”

A growing number of Governors and Republican Presidential candidates have announced their opposition to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their state. A number of Presidential candidates have also called for a halt to all refugee settlement of Syrians.

On Tuesday, November 17, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) said in a statement “The threat posed by the Syrian refugees is real, and as Governor, I cannot expose my fellow Alabamians to the risk of accepting refugees from Syria, whose backgrounds cannot properly be checked to ensure national security.”

Governor Bentley said. “I informed the President of my decision today, and I urge him to reconsider the strategy on Syrian refugees.  We must make every effort to protect our country from possible terrorists who want to destroy all that is good about America.”

On Monday, Gov. Bentley signed an executive order directing all executive branch agencies to utilize all lawful means necessary to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the State of Alabama.

The President of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service Linda Hartke: “To close the door on Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families who are fleeing for their lives. If ISIS had hoped the result of the Paris attacks would be small-minded panic, some Governors are giving them their wish.  We should not limit the resettlement of refugees to any one group or faith but rather, we should continue our national priority of resettling the most vulnerable refugees.  Their vulnerability is why we provide refugee, safety, and a new start in the United States.”

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Also on Tuesday, Senator Richard Shelby (R) said that, “Early reports from the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday indicate that the refugee programs in Europe allowed at least one of the attackers to enter France.  In light of these reports, the United States should take notice.  We are now faced with an opportunity to make a common sense, responsible decision that would put Americans at ease and put an end to the risk of radical Islamic terrorists infiltrating our nation through the refugee resettlement program.”

President & CEO of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Lavinia Limon said: “Refugees undergo the most intensive security screening process of any people allowed to enter the US  The average processing time is two years and includes an in-person interview with an Officer of the Department of Homeland Security and continuous security vetting by all US intelligence agencies.  Further, the program emphasizes admitting the most vulnerable refugees including widows with children, the elderly, and infirm who are unlikely to pose a threat.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said in a statement on Monday, “The President’s proposal to resettle 85,000 refugees this fiscal year alone will result in a net cost of approximately $55.25 billion.”  “For the same cost of providing benefits to one refugee in America, vastly more refugees could be helped by establishing safe-zones in Syria or surrounding countries until displaced persons can be safely returned home.”

The Director of the Refugee Council USA Naomi Steinberg said, “The United States has a very long and proud tradition of welcoming refugees. The US refugee resettlement program is a reflection of who we truly are as Americans. We must therefore stand firm in our commitment to refuge welcome in the face of knee-jerk political reactions that do nothing but create an atmosphere of fear.”

Many Americans are fearful that allowing more Islamists into the country will only increase the likelihood of an attack like what happened in Paris that left 132 Parisians dead and another 350 wounded……many severely.  Critics of the liberal immigration policies also point to the Boston Marathon attack where two Chechen refugees killed 4 Americans including an eight year old boy and a MIT police officer and injured 265 other people.


Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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