Wednesday, November 18, 2015

You Don't Have To Live Like A Refugee?

President Obama has called for the United States to accept, after screening, 100,000 Syrian refugees into the United States - more than the number that former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley proposed allowing into this country back in September.  But at least 26 governors have been cool to the idea and have attempted to block Syrian refugees from settling in their states.  One of them, Ohio's John Kasich, has left the door open to letting in Syrian refugees at later date when the latest wave of Islamic State terrorism ebbs and refugee-screening is made even tougher.  Other governors have been dead-set against it under any circumstances, including, ironically, current Maryland governor Larry Hogan and his political benefactor, New Jersey's own Chris Christie.  The Fat Man In the State House has even been opposed to allowing orphaned Syrian child refugees here.  Because they might grow up to be terrorists??  How do they grow up in America to become terrorists?? 
The map above shows who's accepting Syrian refugees and who's not.  The latter list includes ten of the eleven former Confederate States, of course (Virginia, headed by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is the honorable expectation), and the "no" list also includes Scott Walker's Wisconsin, Paul LePage's Maine, and also Republican Charlie Baker's Massachusetts.  
Even if some governors, like Democrat Mark Dayton of Minnesota, are happy to take Syrian refugees in their states, the Republican Congress is moving to stop even that by attempting to impose a nationwide moratorium on the effort.  House legislation on delaying the President's plan is under consideration.
Incidentally, at least four incumbent Republican governors who oppose admitting refugees - Nathan Deal of Georgia, Mike Pence of Indiana, Butch Otter (Butch Otter?  Sounds like a cartoon character!) of Idaho and Sam Brownback of Kansas - voted in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing war against Iraq while serving in Congress, even though mounting evidence indicates that the Iraq War led to the creation of the Islamic State group now destabilizing Syria as well as Iraq.  Christie and another Republican governor against Obama's refugee settlement plan, Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, who both worked for George Walker Bush's administration, supported the Iraq War, as did Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.  By the way, Jindal, who leaves office in January, just dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential campaign.
The Republican Party is as morally bankrupt as it is electorally successful (however, award Jeb Bush points for breaking with the GOP and supporting refugee resettlement; hopefully he's since decided to allow in Muslims as well as Christians).  The Republicans are playing off fear and bigotry and trying to divide the country over the refugee crisis, mostly ignoring Obama's plans to thoroughly screen refugees (which would take up to two years) and ignoring as well Martin O'Malley's point that letting 65,000 Syrians in a country of 320 million is comparable to letting six more people into a full 32,000-seat stadium.  (They're also ignoring O'Malley in general, but that's another post.)  Barring Syrian refugees isn't going to stop the Islamic State (IS); it might even embolden anti-Americanism among prospective Syrian IS recruits.  The Republicans, going into a presidential election that may leave one party surviving by default and may destroy the other party entirely, are promoting bad policy.  Smart politics, maybe, but bad policy.   

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