America is a nation of immigrants – built on a long, proud history of aiding persecuted people. The Statue of Liberty—the Mother of Exiles—welcomes millions seeking a safe haven with the comforting words, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Over the past few years, more than 4 million Syrians, most of who are families with children and victims of torture, have fled Syria in search of safety and stability.
Unfortunately, some of our leaders have declared that desperate Syrians fleeing for their lives are unwelcome in America. As the violence of the Syrian conflict spills out beyond its borders now, is the time to act with compassion, not fear. We cannot let political pandering get in the way of doing what is right.
So as families gather for their Thanksgiving feast and inevitably argue about politics and old grievances, this year, ABU has you covered (at least on the politics part).
Here are some comments that are likely to come up and some pointers on how to respond both at the dinner table and on Facebook:
Your niece says: This isn’t our problem.
You say: This is a global problem being tackled by countries all over the world. As world leaders, it is our responsibility to lead by welcoming victims of terror and war. Other countries are welcoming in the vast majority of the more than 4 million people who have fled Syria. The 10,000 refugees the U.S. plans to accept is a small but enormously meaningful contribution to addressing this global crisis.
Your father-in-law says: Those refugees could be terrorists – better safe than sorry!
You say: Syrian refugees aren’t terrorists, they are the victims of terrorism, fleeing the same types of atrocities we witnessed in Paris last week. Syrian refugees entering this country already undergo the most intensive vetting and screening process of any ethnic group — including runs through the State Department, Homeland Security, the Consular Lookout System, the FBI, Immigration Services, and more.
Your cousin says: I still don’t see the problem in delaying accepting these refugees.
You say: When we delay and reject the entry of Syrian refugees we help ISIS — we prove their recruiting ploy that argues the West is intolerant to Muslims.
Syrian refugees already face the most scrutiny of any refugees, and delaying their entry even further only puts their lives at risk. It takes one to three years for a refugee to be admitted. Of those Syrian refugees who have gone through that intense screening process, 75% have been children or seniors.
Facebook Friend Says: What’s the harm in Governor Herbert being cautious?
You say: Elected officials should offer character and leadership on important issues, not irrational intolerance aimed at pleasing primary voters. Herbert’s actions are dangerous: he is propagating fear and signaling that an entire community of people are terrorists, which is obviously not true.
Oh yeah, he doesn’t actually have the power to do anything… it is a federal issue… but whatever.