Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Those are the words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, an icon of everything America is supposed to represent. If we offer nothing else to the world, we are supposed to offer a safe haven from tyranny and oppression, a dream for the peoples of the world who have yet to taste real freedom. This is why I am enraged by those calling for us to turn away the refugees coming from Syria, because some of them might be terrorists like the ones that recently attacked Paris.
They have as much of a right to be here as you do
We can have a conversation about how to best vet these immigrants and how to maintain some semblance of control over immigration from all corners of the globe, but that conversation can't start with a halt to all immigration from a specific region. That is--and there really is no better word to describe it--xenophobia, a fear of outsiders. How have we come to a place, as a country, where over half the states in our union are trying to block displaced refugees from coming in? Even if there are a handful of wolves hiding among the sheep, that doesn't change the fact that we are supposed to be the shepherds. We, as a nation, do not leave people to the wolves. That's not America.
Also, and this is not a minor point, it's unconstitutional. The question of who should be allowed into the country is one the constitution unequivocably requires the federal government to answer, not the states. Governors who are now saying they will stop Syrian immigrants from entering their states are assuming power they simply do not have. They can certainly make things difficult by not cooperating, but they do not have a legal case in resisting federal authority in this matter.
Et tu, Senator?
On the other hand, it is of course ridiculous to suggest we should have completely open, porous borders that allow anyone to enter this country. Every nation has immigration law, and America is no different. Still, this is a federal question, not a state one, as the Supreme Court has recently affirmed.
This election cycle was already dominated by presidential contenders on the right talking about how best to handle immigration policy, but now that the Paris attacks have sparked a new conflagration of xenophobic tendencies in the American public, you can bet it's all anybody's going to be talking about for the forseeable future. It's a valid debate to have, but suggesting we close our borders, kick out anyone who is here illegally, reject the citizenship claims of children born to immigrants, and send suffering Syrian refugees back to the wartorn lands they are fleeing is to be deeply, deeply un-American.
I have no patience for it. Even Rand Paul, the most libertarian-leaning presidential candidate, is trying to sell legislation that will stop the Syrian immigrants and force a waiting period on French citizens who are trying to enter the country. How insane have we become that we want to be suspicious of French people who want to come to America? The French are the ones who gave us the Statue of Liberty in the first place, and now we are supposed to punish them because they were attacked by terrorists? Seriously?! Did we quarantine the people of New York City after 9/11?
This is how you actually keep terrorists out
Sure, we all but strip search people who simply want to get on a commercial flight, but we all know that it won't stop a determined terrorist. You can certainly make the case that the government is inept in determining the safety of any incoming refugee, but blocking said refugee as a result is like killing anybody who might have AIDS because you don't want to risk spreading the disease. Aren't the Republicans the ones who like to say that we can't outlaw guns because, if we do, only outlaws will have guns? I agree with that sentiment, which is why I don't see how anyone thinks we can stop the influx of terrorists by turning away refugees. The bad guys will find a way in regardless.
You want to punish someone for the repeated attacks on Western culture? Punish the terrorists! Let's kill the bastards, let it be known we'll kill anyone else who thinks they can act that way or who gives mass murderers a safe haven, and then go home to welcome anyone who seeks shelter from the storm. That's the America I know and love, not this isolationist, xenophobic nonsense.