National hysteria over Syrian refugees with potential ties to ISIS coming to the United States has reached an all time high (and also a new low, even by today’s standards). A top GOP leader from Tennessee says it’s time to mobilize the National Guard, round up the state’s 30 Syrian refugees they’ve welcomed thus far and drop them off with the nearest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department. Nevermind the fact that what Tennessee House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada is proposing is illegal, it’s also immoral and ignorant. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of rhetoric that leads to smashed bookstore signs and vandalized mosques.
The Tennessean reported Wednesday, Mr. Casada said, “I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks. We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'”
It seems that Mr. Casada has forgotten America’s longstanding tradition of providing a safe haven for refugees fleeing geopolitical turmoil. Or does that not apply in Casada’s mind because they practice the religion of Islam? The United States boasts about the freedom to practice any religion one chooses, yet many Americans — especially influential politicians — believe that only applies to Christianity. Apparently there’s a war on Christmas and Christianity, yet those same people crying foul on Starbucks or anyone else “tarnishing” the Christian tradition would be the first to walk all over a Muslim’s right to, well, be a Muslim.
Lawmakers at the federal and state level are expressing their discontent over the Syrian refugee program, and many of those concerns are certainly legitimate, but Mr. Casada’s rhetoric detracts from that legitimacy. Do we need to evaluate how we vet Syrian refugees? More than likely, yes we do, especially in the face of troubling events in Paris and Beirut. However, rounding up refugees and expelling them from your state is not a legitimate answer in this discussion.
State Senate Democratic Caucus leader Jeff Yarbro expressed his concern over Casada’s words, “After Paris, it makes sense to fear the violence being exported by ISIS. But giving in to fear, closing the borders and abandoning our allies is un-American, and ultimately will make our situation even more dangerous.”
“We’re better than this,” Yarbro said.
According to legal scholars, lawmakers may not actually have any legal ground to refuse the federal refugee program from placing refugees in their states, though that will ultimately be up to the courts. We’ll see just how confident Casada and other GOP lawmakers are in their attempt to undermine the feds in this case.