Setting herself apart from a national groundswell of opinion against admitting more refugees from the Syrian crisis to the United States, Mayor Lovely A. Warren made the case Tuesday for welcoming those in need.
Warren rested her case partly on the protection afforded by the legal vetting that goes on before immigrants can be admitted.
“Understanding that we have a clear process for immigrants and for those refugees to come into our country, that we’re not going to support them and we’re going to turn our backs on them I think is very wrong,” Warren said on live talk show broadcast on Huff Post. The link is here: http://huff.lv/1KjdNpu.
Warren faced no opposition to her views on the talk show; all four guests were pro-immigration.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also said Tuesday that rejecting Syrian refugees would be akin to letting terrorists win by “conceding defeat of the American dream.”
Responding to those urging him to block the placement of Syrian refugees, the Democratic governor told students at Harvard University on Tuesday that efforts to prevent terrorism must be balanced with America’s status as a beacon for liberty and tolerance.
The show followed strong statements in opposition to allowing refugees from the Middle East into the country from almost two dozen Republican governors and demands among Republicans in Congress that President Barack Obama suspend resettlement programs for Syrian refugees. Immigration policy is set at the federal level, although a number of states have programs in place to help refugees settle in.
Warren said it was wrong to change the rules on admitting immigrants to exclude some on the basis of national origin.
“To say now that if you are a Syrian refugee you are not allowed to come to this country and to have a safe haven, even to a child as young as 5, it’s wrong and it’s disheartening. They’re suffering based on the actions of a limited number of people.”
In Washington, The Associated Press reported Tuesday that House Speaker Paul Ryan had called for a “pause” in Syrian refugees coming to the U.S. in the wake of the Paris attacks, and assembled a task force to bring legislation to a vote as soon as this week.
“Our nation has always been welcoming but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters after a closed-door House GOP meeting. “This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry, so we think the prudent, the responsible, thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population.”
“We have in our country a complete vetting process that every refugee that’s coming into our country [undergoes],” Warren said. “I think we need to continue to rely on that.”
Cuomo also said Washington has vowed to screen potential terrorists and noted that governors cannot legally block refugees anyway.
Several governors have said they won’t allow Syrian refugees into their states following the coordinated attacks in Paris.
On Monday a Republican congressman from New York and a GOP state legislator called on Cuomo to reject the refugees, including Assemblyman Peter Lawrence (R,C,I-Greece).
“I’m sure that many Monroe County families are feeling uneasy as our world is grappling with new, dangerous threats from militant jihadists. I am calling on Gov. Cuomo to join 30 other governors across the country and suspend the settlement of Syrian refugees in New York,” Lawrence said.
“Our nation cannot let ISIS use our generous spirit against us. I am urging the governor to put the safety and security of New Yorkers first,” he continued.
Forty-eight Syrian refugees have settled in New York so far this year.