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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Opinion

Texas needs to accept Syrian refugees


 

RefugeesWelcomeFinal

An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the civil war began. | Graphic by Jennifer Garcia

Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcement Texas will not accept Syrian refugees represent the worst kind of response in the wake of the terrible attacks in Paris: fear.

Abbott believes that closing the door on Syrian refugees will protect Texans from potential danger, but his policy is the real danger.

Terrorists need propaganda to recruit for their groups, and this sort of xenophobia plays right into their hands. This policy only makes the already struggling lives of innocent refugees more difficult, and it encourages potential propaganda for further recruitment into terrorist organizations.

Enemies of the U.S. have done this before, and it can happen again.

The Soviet Union exploited the racist history of the U.S. as a propaganda tool for communism during the Cold War. Xenophobic responses to terror attacks will provide propaganda to terror groups whose ideologies only serve to spread hate and destruction. In fact, xenophobic responses to anything by the U.S. will always provide propaganda for anyone aiming to discredit its influence.

Not only is it morally wrong for Abbott to close the door to refugees, but it is probably illegal as well.

“No governor has any constitutional or legal power to make these kinds of unilateral declarations,” American history professor Robert Buzzanco said.

Many, like Buzzanco, question the authority state governors have over refugee resettlement, especially since the Refugee Act of 1980 provides power of refugee relocation to the president and the federal government.

However, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill on Thursday that would severely limit the amount of refugees entering the U.S.. This sort of policy is exactly what many Republican governors like Abbott want: to let in as few refugees as possible.

Despite the valid critiques of Abbott’s decision, some say he may actually have more power than legal critics give him credit for.

“The Department of State is reviewing its policy to determine whether there is an avenue for states to object to the resettlement of refugees within their borders,”political science professor Michelle Belco said. “The state is not consulted (of refugee resettlement in the state’s cities), but there could be a jurisdictional issue if the states continue to object and (if) they can find a substantive or even procedural basis for their claims.”

Despite the legal implications, these actions do not represent strength in the wake of terror. We stand with Paris in the wake of their tragedy, but must also be willing to stand for those who are seeking our help.

How can we be the nation of hope and freedom when we turn our backs on those who seek asylum from places without the freedoms we proudly display?

If we want to prove that Texas is an exceptional state, then we must not fall to fear when responding to terrorist activities. Responding to terror with fear only brings more terror, but responding with strength of character always reveals the true cowards to the world: the terrorists themselves.

Opinion columnist Samuel Pichowsky is a political science sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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