Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott's insistence that we ban Syrian refugees won't keep us safer

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:30 AM





click to enlarge CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS
  • Center for American Progress

This week's From the Pages of Orlando Weekly spot on WMFE 90.7 FM. You can listen to the spot here. 

This week, Gov. Rick Scott joined the governors of more than 20 other states in telling Congress that, in the wake of terror attacks on Paris, the United States should refuse to allow any more Syrian refugees to enter the country.

According to Scott and his like-minded govs, the fact that one of the terrorists who assailed Paris on Nov. 13 made his way into Europe by posing as a Syrian refugee is grounds to determine that any refugee from Syria is a potential threat. They’ve asked Congress to take “immediate and aggressive” action to stop the refugees from coming here. Florida, for the record, is supposed to receive about 425 families.

States can’t legally refuse refugees access – once they’re allowed into the country by authorities, they are here legally – but they can make it difficult to get those refugees settled by refusing to cooperate with organizations helping to settle them. And that is what they intend to do.

According to the Wall Street Journal, though, the Paris attack situation was not actually a Syrian problem – it was a Greek one. The attacker entered Europe via the Aegean border, where police are light on equipment and staff, and border checks are loose. A few questions, some fingerprints and visitors gain access to the EU. Our federal government, however, maintains a stringent screening process for refugees, which includes an interview, a medical check and a multi-agency screening that can take two years to complete. For Syrian refugees, the process is usually longer.

So for security purposes, the focus shouldn’t be on the region refugees come from – it should be on screening protocols that make sense. Because today that fake passport may be from someone posing as a Syrian – tomorrow it could be from a European, or an Australian, or an African. Closing our borders to one group, based on fear, can’t prevent that.

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