We can’t turn our backs on refugees

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Monday, Gov. Phil Bryant announced all state flags would be lowered in memory of the Parisian terror attacks last week. But that was not our governor’s only response to this atrocious act.

Bryant also announced on Monday that Mississippi would not accept Syrian refugees.

He did this because one of the Parisian attackers may have been Syrian.

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Bryant should not reject Syrian, or any, refugee.

First, our governor should leave federal policy to politicians in Washington.

Second, Bryant has indicated he supports legal immigration in so far as he has said he is opposed to illegal immigration. If and when the federal government legally accepts refugees, then those refugees are legal immigrants and he should accept them. We have no basis to fear or assume the federal government will knowingly allow terrorists into the country.

Third, even if one of the terrorists was Syrian—and it is not clear this is a fact—the New York Times reports five of the eight terrorists were French. The nationalities of the other two are yet unknown. Just as we in the United States have suffered attacks from homegrown terrorists, any country on Earth could produce terrorists. We must, after background checks, reject the person, not the whole people.

Finally, while we all oppose terrorism, we must so, in part, with compassion. Part of our federal policy to defeat ISIS must be a clear message that the United States—as a whole—does not fear any nation or people and that we seek peace. We must seek retribution on the battlefield, but at home, we can afford and we must show mercy to those who are themselves as much victims of ISIS as the residents of Paris and Beirut. The victims in Paris were of 19 nationalities and we can assume they held vastly different beliefs. None of that matters of course. What matters is, we are in this together.

We must show as much in our policies.