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Sorry, Republican Governors: It's Illegal To Not Accept Syrian Refugees Into Your State

Sorry, Republican Governors: It's Illegal To Not Accept Syrian Refugees Into Your State

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The far-right wing in both America and Europe have seized on the Paris terror attacks as an excuse to turn away the thousands of desperate refugees who are fleeing the terror and violence of ISIS. Thirteen American governors (all Republican) have announced they will refuse to accept Syrian refugees in their states, demonstrating a remarkable ignorance of Constitutional law. As ThinkProgress noted, “the Supreme Court explained in Hines v. Davidowitz, “the supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” States do not get to overrule the federal government on matters such as this one.”

Those declarations by GOP governors are riding the wave of Islamophobia coursing through the right-wing. Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz both proposed profiling refugees by religion and “only accepting Christians,” because despite the fact that Christian terrorist attacks take place in our country on a regular basis, Cruz thinks “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”  Trump said that he would “strongly consider” shutting down mosques in America, completely contradicting his widely professed devotion for “religious freedom.” Mike Huckabee called for the new Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, to halt the “importation” of refugees or resign. 

President Obama ripped these xenophobic bigots in his Monday press conference, chastising them for abandoning American values and buying into their own fearmongering:

“When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. we don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

He is absolutely right. While there are certainly dangers we need to address, this kind of reaction from the right-wing is exactly what ISIS wanted. By reacting with fear and discrimination, we marginalize more Muslims and push them into the arms of extremists. The passport that indicated one of the attackers was a Syrian refugee is likely fake, and an obvious plant to inflame fear of refugees. These people are desperately fleeing their homes because the murderous horrors of the Paris attacks are a daily occurrence in ISIS territory – a mass grave of eighty murdered women was recently discovered in Iraq’s Sinjar province by liberating Kurdish peshmerga units. It is our moral obligation to accept and protect the incoming refugees in the face of unthinkable violence.

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Colin Taylor
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.

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