"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is false advertisement--or at least that's what some Governors want you to think. Our nation has long held a tradition of welcoming the stranger--especially when that stranger was fleeing persecution or seeking refuge.
Being that safe haven and beacon for those around the world has been a defining characteristic of who we are as a people--one we often lived up to. We have done all of this not because it was easy, or convenient but because we have a unique understanding that we were yesterday's refugee--and it was not long ago that many of us came to the American shores in search of a better life.
President Obama is living up to that tradition by allowing refugees fleeing Syria to find safety in the United States. Some Governors--most of whom are Republican--are attempting to bar these refugees from entering their states. This is not only fundamentally at odds with our history, but it drastically underestimates our capabilities and fails to acknowledge our moral responsibility: we can and must give refuge to those seeking safety while also ensuring the safety of our own citizens. National Security and honoring our immigrant tradition are not mutually exclusive.
These Governors are promulgating a fear of "the other" that drastically cuts at our societal fabric. They-- who lets remember have no legal grounds to dictate immigration policy to a President--seem more concerned with creating a political climate that benefits them, rather than actually leading during this humanitarian crisis. The President and countless civil servants remain committed to rigorous background tests for every refugee who is admitted. If someone does not meet the criteria--they are denied entry.
The President's proposed policy may not perfect, but he is demonstrating a willingness to act. Unfortunately, I don't think we should anticipate that type of leadership from these governors any time soon.
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