A few hours ago, the House passed the Republicans’ bill that would halt any acceptance of refugees from Syria and create additional layers of bureaucratic hoops for refugees to pass through, effectively making it impossible for them.
The refugee screening process is already very restrictive, and Republicans likely already know that. When the New York Times pressed Republicans yesterday to point out what they actually thought were the weaknesses in the process, they got no response—well, except for a poll.
When pressed, most Republicans could not specify which aspects of the rigorous refugee vetting program that they found inadequate. Mr. Ryan’s staff members cited a Bloomberg poll of 1,002 adults released on Wednesday, conducted by Selzer & Company, that found that 53 percent of those surveyed said the resettlement program should be halted.
The racist and xenophobic bill is disingenuously named American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act. Security is not the purpose of the bill: its purpose is fear-mongering and catering to the basest sentiments of the population. If anything, it risks making the country less safe. In a speech the other day, the President remarked, “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for Isil [Isis] than some of the rhetoric that’s been coming out of here during the course of this debate.” Counterterrorism expert Harleen Gambhir explained this further in the Washington Post, “The Islamic State’s strategy is to polarize Western society — to “destroy the grayzone,” as it says in its publications. The group hopes frequent, devastating attacks in its name will provoke overreactions by European governments against innocent Muslims, thereby alienating and radicalizing Muslim communities throughout the continent.” French authorities believe that the planting of a fake Syrian passport was done exactly to provoke such a backlash against refugees and the Muslim population in general.
Republicans are doing exactly what ISIS wants Western leaders to do. And although President Obama, our three Democratic presidential candidates, and senators like Elizabeth Warren have eloquently spoken about why we should continue to accept refugees (at a higher level than our embarrassingly low number), many Democrats are simply craven. And we saw that today.
The Republican bill passed easily, 289 to 137. 47 Democrats joined the GOP in voting for it, and 2 Republicans voted against it. From what I know of the two Republicans, they are just as hateful as their colleagues, if not more so–perhaps they found the bill wasn’t cruel enough.
Two members of the MA delegation—Stephen Lynch (MA-08) and Bill Keating (MA-09)—joined the GOP in this craven effort.
When we look back at history and see how the US turned away countless Jewish refugees from Germany and Eastern Europe in the late 1930s and early 1940s, we often wonder how people could have been so heartless and think it would never be the case were the same situation to happen today. But as they say, history often repeats itself.
(Condensed from a piece on the Daily Kos)