Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, the country has witnessed anti-refugee sentiment coming from various corners, including state governments and the anti-immigrant movement. Over 30 governors across the country have said they will not accept Syrian refugees and have asked President Obama to halt or suspend the country’s refugee program.
Many of the governors appealed to fear in the wake of the terrorist attacks, asserting that they could not protect the residents of their states from potential terrorists. Later, some Congressional leaders also drove home this fear by advocating for the suspension of the U.S. government’s refugee program.
The notion that terrorists can enter the United States through U.S. refugee programs is not new. In October of this year, a number of presidential candidates said they would not allow Syrian refugees into the country and would send back those who have been allowed to settle in the U.S.
But the events in Paris have ratcheted up the anti-refugee rhetoric, equating refugees with terrorists and questioning their ability to assimilate into “Western culture.” Anti-immigrant organizations such as the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and NumbersUSA have all released articles or statements declaring that the U.S. government should suspend its refugee program.
Dan Stein, the president of FAIR, wrote a column on November 16 extolling the program established by the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s to deport thousands of Mexican immigrants. After talking about the alleged merits of the program, Stein turned his attention to Muslim immigrants in the wake of the Paris attacks. He wrote, “A dulling orthodoxy within certain Muslim communities has degenerated [sic] a fanatical strain that promises an epicurean paradise for mass murder on earth."
In a column for National Review, Mark Krikorian, head of CIS wrote, “Relocating refugees from the Middle East to the U.S. is morally wrong.” He goes on to say that the U.S. should assist refugees by caring for them in their “native region”—despite the terror and war that refugees are experiencing. NumbersUSA released a similar statements saying that the U.S. should help refugees in their home region rather than allowing them to come to the U.S.
Ann Corcoran, who runs Refugee Resettlement Watch, writes daily about the alleged dangers of letting refugees into this country by appealing to anti-Muslim sentiment. On November 17, she wrote, “All the vetting in the world isn’t going to save us from the toddlers coming in with Mom and Dad from Africa and the Middle East who thumb their noses at the ‘good life’ and become radicalized 20 years down the road. The only true solution is a complete moratorium on Muslim immigration.”
The fear-mongering appears to be having an influence. The media reported on November 18 that two refugee families from Syria that had been approved and scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis have been told that they are no longer welcome in the state.