As an immigrant, going to see the Statute of Liberty brings great joy and inspiration. The torch is a symbol of enlightenment. The Statue of Liberty’s torch lights the way to freedom showing us the path to Liberty. Even the Statue’s official name represents her most important symbol “Liberty Enlightening the World”. With such a symbol of American pride right in Donald Trump’s home town, and with all the diversity in New York City, you would think that our new president would be more aware of the positive impact immigrants of all backgrounds bring to this country. Instead, with the new presidency Donald Trump is expected to sign two executive orders today. One, suspending the refugee resettlement program except for religious minorities escaping persecution. The justification is that the program should be halted until stronger vetting procedures can be put into place. Here is a link to twenty-step process that any refugee must go through: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/20/us/why-it-takes-two-years-for-syrian-refugees-to-apply-to-enter-the-united-states.html?_r=0. The second order is a suspension of visas for citizens of Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African Nations. President Trump is playing on people’s fears, and that is not acceptable.
Whatever side of the issue you come from, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the vetting procedures that are in place now. The truth is that these procedures are already unbelievably thorough, and take anywhere from many months to years to complete. Refugees go through more rigorous security checks that essentially any other immigrant or entrant into the United States. The procedures we have in place now do work, and they work very well.
The Washington Post documents that: “A State Department spokesperson said of the nearly 785,000 refugees admitted through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program since 9/11, ‘only about a dozen — a tiny fraction of one percent of admitted refugees — have been arrested or removed from the U.S. due to terrorism concerns that existed prior to their resettlement in the United States. None of them were Syrian.’”
Think about who is really in danger here. It’s the families who have lived for years in war torn areas, desperate to find a stable life where they can work hard and raise their children. These are people that are presently trapped in refugee camps and cannot return to their homelands. If we stop our refugee program, they only result is to put more pressure on the United Nations programs and endanger more people. Many of these people have already spent more than a decade living in a refugee camp. It’s the children, spouses, and parents of our newest, most grateful, and most patriotic Americans, who have been waiting patiently for the day that they would see their loved ones again after years of separation. From a policy standpoint this is a terrible idea, there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.
Stopping refugee resettlement, for any period of time for any group of people, would undermine our nation’s founding principles of being a beacon of freedom and hope. This program saves hundreds of lives every day, and strengthens our communities and our nation. Stopping refugee resettlement will have profound and detrimental consequences. Lives will be lost and our national interests will be at risk. The United States should continue to welcome refugees while continuing to ensure our own security. Our history has proven you don’t need to make a choice, and we should continue to do both.
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