The refugee resettlement debate has grown more heated and contentious in the wake of last week’s horrific Paris terror attacks. On Tuesday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) joined governors across the country and announced amid heightened security concerns that he is asking the U.S. government to stop settling Syrian refugees in Maryland until it can provide assurances that they pose no threat to public safety.
The public outcry in reaction to this announcement has been swift and loud.
Since the 9/11 terror attacks, according to the Migration Policy Institute, some 800,000 refugees have been settled in America – of these, some 2,000 are Syrian. Only 3 of these nearly 800,000 refugees have ever posed known risk or been charged with committing acts of terrorism. These 3 individuals are not been confirmed to be Syrian; 2 of the 3 were not planning an attack in the United States, and the plans of the third were barely credible.
Still, this equals 0.000004% of the total number of refugees settled in the United States who have been linked to any terrorist activity. Reports show time and again that home-grown terror is a greater threat to our safety and security than refugees and foreign threats.
Daesh has claimed responsibility for the terror attacks in Paris, but intelligence reveals that the alleged masterminds are actually European – not refugees from Syria. A supposed Syrian passport was discovered near the body of a slain assailant, but that passport has since been determined to be fake. This discovery has nonetheless sparked fears of Daesh infiltration through the current refugee influx into Europe, and resettlement efforts in the United States and Canada.
By refusing to settle Syrian refugees in Maryland, Governor Hogan is joining the chorus of those across America who are reactionarily succumbing to fear-mongering and race-baiting. This move plays right into the hands of groups like Daesh, because that is exactly what these barbaric terrorists want – to create an “us versus them” dichotomy that reaffirms their false propaganda that Western and Islamic values are incompatible.
After all, Daesh can’t build its ranks and rise in power if the populations they want to control are running off to settle in other countries who are providing the safe space they risk everything to seek.
Refugees flee war torn countries to escape persecution and seek a better way of life for themselves and their families. The unfathomable horrors they have witnessed increase their appreciation for the freedoms we cherish in America. To punish them as a consequence of our own fears is cruel and unethical. We cannot protect our country by succumbing to fear, compromising our ideals, and shutting out people who desperately need our help the most. Especially not when our own failed policies have contributed to their country’s deteriorating state.
According to UNHCR, over 4 million exhausted Syrians are desperate to escape ruthless, glorified terrorist organizations and an oppressive, brutal regime – making this the world’s single largest refugee crisis in 25 years under its mandate. Based on data put forth by the agency, the amount of refugees the U.S. has already committed to resettling is paltry compared to the dire need.
America has long been seen as that last great hope for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses fleeing persecution, war and terror. Maryland has proudly played an integral role in helping refugees rebuild and recover from the hardships they have endured. Refugees pay taxes, contribute to our economy and enrich our state. National security and public safety are critical priorities, and they are not compromised by fulfilling our obligation to serve humanity; in fact, they are jeopardized when we do not.
We must place trust in our government’s vetting process and its ability to keep us safe. It will take courage and compassion to acknowledge our moral and political duty to do what we can to provide safe haven to these refugees. As long as we continue to exhibit this courage and compassion, as long as we refuse to allow fear-mongering and doubt to cloud our better judgment, and as long as we hold steadfast to our coveted ideals and constitutional values, we cannot be defeated.