A long list of governors have decided to close their state’s borders to newly inbound refugees; however, this method can’t be simple as that. In fact, the Supreme Court is clear on this; in Hines v. Davidowitz, the justices declared: “the supremacy of the national power … over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution.” Basically, the “national power” – the federal government – has the decision-making power over immigration, not individual states. States have no right to refuse refugees and, beyond that, here’s why they shouldn’t.
For one, the scare tactics popping up to keep us afraid of and denying refugees are all false and just that – tactics. The supposed refugee’s passport found at the site of the Paris attacks was likely a fake, and the U.S. can vet refugees in a way that European countries can’t.
Second, not a single terrorist attack has been carried out by a refugee on American soil. September 11th and the Boston bombings were both carried out by individuals with valid US entry, not at all related to refugee statuses. And the rest of the Paris attackers have all been confirmed to be Europe nationals. In short, terrorism is primarily homegrown extremism. To argue Syrian refugees are coming to America to terrorize completely underpins the reality that they are in fact fleeing a warzone and their own home-based terrorism.
Contrary to popular belief, refugees are more likely to become terrorists if left at their site of war rather than resettled in non-warring countries. As a Niskanen research associate found, “When we fail to provide refugees with the opportunity to resume normal, productive lives, we contribute to the hopelessness and alienation that really does breed terrorism.”
That same article highlights the ridiculousness of barring refugees to prevent terrorism: 1.5 million refugees from the Middle East have been brought into the U.S. since 9/11, and not a single one has committed an act of terrorism.
Many people don’t remember all of the other times America accepted refugees in the past. That’s because, for the most part, we’ve never noticed when refugees are brought in — they don’t diminish our country or harm it at all. As one author puts it, “Besides the Vietnamese, we took in more than a million Cubans, including 125,000 in 1980. More than 300,000 Soviet Jews came here after 1988. Today, most Americans hardly remember these influxes…” because we didn’t notice anything wrong after we welcomed them into our country. We are also choosing to forget those we have not accepted. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has issued a statement condemning the shunning of Syrian (and other) refugees – remembering the impossibility of fleeing Jews in the Holocaust.
Some people might say the solution to the problem of traditional immigrants committing terrorist acts may be to close off immigration altogether. That would be like cutting off your hand to avoid the pain of a papercut. Immigration bolsters our economy. One author found that “America’s top two cultural centers, California and New York, have the largest foreign-born populations in the country” and our cultural value is only heightened by immigration. And often, people in power accuse immigrants of not wanting to work or being criminals; did you know that isn’t true? Immigrants come here to work, not live off welfare; their crime rates are low — and the test for “who is an immigrant?” is generally, “let’s make an educated guess,” skewering these rates even higher. There’s no historical basis for cutting off immigration, except for the highly flawed moves like the Chinese Exclusion Act that won’t even be discussed here because of how much of a failure those programs were.
We talk a lot about how best to solve the refugee crisis while keeping our soil safe. Well, our soil is safe, refugees incoming or not. Refugees, by and large, are normal people from warring lands who need our protection, not our ire. The compassionate move would be to accept these people into our lands with open arms. We neglected to do that for Jewish immigrants in the 1930s-1940s, and think about how that turned out. Do we want to fear-mongering to be responsible for the deaths of millions again? I don’t think so. I think America is better than that. The instability we helped create is responsible for Daesh, not the refugees.
[image via x]