Many of you reading this today are aware of the two major factions in the debate about whether to allow Syrian refugees into the United States or not. Diving into the fierce debate are the governors of at least 31 states who have declared that they oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states. Texas governor Greg Abbott has stated that he opposes Syrian refugees in Texas under the guise of “security comes first.” Florida and New Mexico have also refused to accept Syrian refugees.
Of course, as with all rhetoric, the facts have little to do with the debate. The simple truth, ignored by the governors, is that they have no authority with which to keep Syrian refugees out of their states. Yes, they can make it difficult, through bureaucratic entanglements, but the end result is that immigration is the domain of the federal government. This simple fact is demonstrated everyday by the millions of travelers entering and leaving the states without passing through immigration control checkpoints.
In other words, once in the United States, there are no impediments for travelers to go to each of the states that have declared themselves Syrian refugee free. Until the State of Texas, or any other state for that matter, enacts border checkpoints asking for traveling documents, the fact remains that Syrians and other immigrants allowed by the federal government into the United States can legally go to any state they wish.
This simple fact that is conveniently ignored by the governors exposes the underlining reason why they do not want Syrian refugees in their midst, and it has nothing to do with “security.”
In debating this I have heard the same argument from those opposed. It goes something like this; “if only one bad apple in a group could harm us, isn’t it prudent for us to keep them out so that we can be safe?” I have heard it equated to “one bad raisin” a well.
Assuming for argument’s sake only, that the safety doctrine is valid, then it could be applied to all similar situations. For example, fundamentalist Christians in the United States have been perpetrators of horrific crimes to include terrorism. As a matter of fact, applying the logic of those wanting to keep the Syrian refugees out of the country to those opposed to Planned Parenthood would necessitate excluding, from our midst, all those that have ever expressed a dislike for Planned Parenthood or abortion. After all, three individuals were recently killed by a self-professed baby savior.
Accepting the rhetoric of the governors and those opposed to the Syrian refugees would then require us to keep anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood advocates out of the states as well. Of course, almost all of you, including those opposed to the Syrians, would be against that measure.
That then forces us to ask the question, what is the difference between “one bad apple” within the Syrians and “one bad apple” within the anti-abortionists?
Nothing and that is why the anti-Syrian refugees’ proponents are basing their rhetoric on xenophobia instead of the security of the nation.
Xenophobia is the intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.
Asking to keep the Syrians out because one may be bad is akin to demanding that anti-abortionists be kept out as well. Percentage wise, there are more documented instances of terrorism committed in the United States by home-grown, US citizen terrorists then by foreign-born terrorists.
Once we accept this we can then move on to a more honest debate about immigration.
That debate should include scrutinizing who enters the country but it should never include excluding a segment of the population just because extremists live within their ranks.
I have no problem with demanding that immigrants be identified and vetted as long as the process is applied equally to all. When a system has tiered processes based on ethnicity or country of origin then immigration control moves away from security to selective immigration based on race, ethnicity or economic prosperity. That exasperates the problem of immigration.