My father Eli immigrated to America from Poland in 1921 after World War I at the age of 17. He was not a refugee fleeing war, although much of his family later became victims of the Holocaust. He came to America looking to make a better life. He never made a lot of money, but it didn’t matter because he was able to start a family and send his two sons to college. That meant the world to him and he loved this country.
While my father came here as an immigrant, many have also come as refugees fleeing war, oppression and violence. That’s why I opposed the call of some to turn away unaccompanied children who showed up on our borders from Latin America. We must not allow the horrific violence we have seen in France and elsewhere to turn us from our historic role as a haven for the oppressed.
In terms of the Syrian refugee situation we are now facing, now is not the time for us to succumb to racism and bigotry. In this moment, it is particularly important that we not allow ourselves to be divided by the anti-immigrant hysteria that Republican presidential candidates are ginning up.
When hundreds of thousands of people have lost everything and have nothing left but the shirts on their backs, we should not turn our backs on these refugees escaping violence in the Middle East. Of course we have to investigate the backgrounds of people coming into the country — and we will — but to suggest that we would even turn away orphans is incredible.
The rhetoric and fear mongering about these refugees from some Republicans running for President is abhorrent and has no place in our political discourse.
Donald Trump has not just called for keeping out Syrian refugees, he also said he thinks it’s a good idea to create a national database of all Muslims in America. Meanwhile, Ben Carson said some Syrian refugees are like “rabid dogs” and referred to the rest of Syrian refugees as just “dogs.” This disgusting rhetoric cannot be tolerated.
Other Republicans have suggested rounding up existing refugees and deporting them. And yesterday afternoon, the House of Representatives voted on a plan that would make it near impossible for the United States to continue our Syrian refugee program.
This is not what America stands for.
Syrians and other refugees from the Middle East are escaping unspeakable horrors. To get to our country, refugees already go through a vigorous vetting program by the FBI, National Counterterrorism Center, Homeland Security and the State Department. The process takes almost two years and refugees from Syria face additional scrutiny.
We should continue our program to provide Syrians fleeing violence with the opportunity for a new life. I hope you’ll join me to stand together to admit Syrian refugees. Sign my petition here:
Thank you for standing with me and making your voice heard on this important issue.