The House voted 289- 137 this afternoon to pass a bill that would pause entry into the US for Syrian and Iraqi refugees unless they pass strict background checks. That means for a refugee to get into the US, the Homeland Security secretary, FBI director and national intelligence director will have to certify to Congress that they're not a threat before a refugee can be admitted to the US. Supporters of the bill say that means acceptance of refugees would be paused as a new vetting process was established. (The current process is already very long.)Senate Dems vow to block it, but it can't hurt to give your senators a ring if you feel strongly about this issue.
And we do. This bill is an embarrassment. Stigmatizing refugees is an embarrassing response to a human rights crisis. France, a country that was just attacked, has pledged to still accept 30,000 refugees, not even a week after Friday's attacks. And, oh yeah, all of the known Paris attackers were European nationals.
This is just the latest embarrassment in a long week of embarrassments, particularly for Indiana — after Pence shut down Indiana to refugees from Syria, news broke that a family of refugees had to be redirected to Connecticut instead of Indiana. Connecticut's governor laid the smack down on Pence, saying, "It is the right thing, the humane thing to do. Quite frankly, if you believe in God, it’s the morally correct thing to do," according to the Indianapolis Star.
(Hear that, Mike? If you believe in God, it's the right thing to do. Remember that whole nativity scene thing? About a Middle Eastern family searching for a safe place to lay their heads? 'Tis the season, Mike.)
Back to House: USA Today reports that Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D, NY) said on the floor of the House today that "We face a choice that will echo through history. We must not let ourselves be guided by irrational fear." He then reminded the House that we turned away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Yup — including Anne Frank and an entire boat, among many, many others.
"I support Indiana Governor Mike Pence's decision to suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana. While the United States is a compassionate and welcoming country, our government has an obligation to protect American citizens. We should not accept any Syrian refugees in Indiana or across the country unless the U.S. government can guarantee, with 100 percent assurance, that they are not members, supporters or sympathizers of ISIS.
"I share the Governor's concerns, and think it's necessary to ask questions about the process of screening Syrian refugees until every one of those questions is answered. When it comes to our national security, we should not take any short cuts and we must have assurances that we can protect our safety and security here at home."
Coats is actively tweeting about the crisis.
Even if the U.S. were to admit 100,000 refugees, it still would be only a tiny fraction of the people displaced by the crisis in Syria
— Senator Dan Coats (@SenDanCoats) November 19, 2015
Coats went on to write in a post published on Medium today:
The only reasonable solution to dealing with this humanitarian crisis is to create conditions in and near Syria that will permit people to safely remain near their home country. This will require the United States, our allies and other cooperating international powers to create areas in Syria where Syrians can find safety from attack. Safe havens should be set up along the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, with international security guarantees, funding and management under U.N. auspices.
This will require no-fly zones and strategic military activity by the United States and our allied partners. Western countries should accept these steps as an inescapable price to help bring two twin catastrophes to an end — the migrant crisis and the war that has generated it.
We also need a massive commitment from the world community to set up, fund and manage safe areas with sanitation, health care, food, housing and schools in neighboring countries. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are already doing their utmost to care for millions of refugees, largely relying on their own resources. We need a much greater contribution from other regional states, European countries and traditional donor countries who have long been committed to humanitarian causes.
Call your senators:
Senator Dan Coats (R)
Call him at: 202-224-5623 (DC office)
Tweet him: @SenDanCoats
Write a letter to:
The Honorable Dan Coats
United States Senate
493 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1405
Senator Joe Donnelly (D)
Write to him here.
Tweet him: @SenDonnelly
Call him at: 202-224-4814
Write a letter to:
The Honorable Joe Donnelly
United States Senate
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-1406