PHOTO: ELYSE DESROCHERS
Anti-refugee rhetoric by many people and leaders in the European Union nations and the United States has intensified in light of the recent terror attacks in Paris. This rhetoric appears to be fueled by the belief that one of the perpetrators responsible posed as a Syrian refugee entering France. As a result, some right-wing politicians and European nations have already called for stricter border controls and a downsizing in refugee quotas. Poland, Latvia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have directly linked the refugee crisis in Europe to the attacks on France and leaders have already called for the closing of the Schengen border, a major blow to the E.U.’s resettling programs. Poland especially has been wary of the potential influx of Syrian refugees in its region.
In the United States, at least 24 governors have announced that they will not accept Syrian refugees due to the recent terror attacks. These states range from Texas to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. However, it must be understood that these states have no jurisdiction in regards to the resettling of refugees. The case of Hines v. Davidowitz shows that it is the federal government that has the power to deal with immigration and refugee issues. The Supreme Court ruled, “The supremacy of the national power in the general field of foreign affairs, including power over immigration, naturalization and deportation, is made clear by the Constitution” In addition, the Refugee Act of 1980 enables the President to admit refugees who face “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” as well as "unforeseen emergency refugee situations" into the United States.
Not only is the denial of Syrian refugees a violation of immigration law and beyond the realm of state power, it demonstrates that the United States cannot uphold the values that it preaches. America must serve as a model of hope and strength, not one of fear and cowardice. The attacks in Paris were heinous and raise the question of security, but by no means should they be used as an excuse to refuse people basic human rights and protection. There are thousands of people fleeing from unimaginable horrors in search for a place to call home. Americans need to respond as concerned people from a nation with a long history of welcoming refugees.
Please send a message to your Governor and let him or her know your thoughts on this issue.