Saturday, March 5, 2016

Judge Tanya Walton Pratt does the right thing

“I don’t think orphans under five are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point.” — Governor Chris Christie

WHEN did we get so small and uncharitable and xenophobic? 


Finally a federal district judge has put a stop to a least one Republican governor's unconstitutional attempt to override the federal government.  The New York Times editorial board explains.





 Judge’s Message to the Xenophobes


By The Editorial Board

March 5, 2016

More than two dozen Republican governors were in a virtual stampede last fall to be first to bar the resettlement of federally approved Syrian refugees in their states. The shameless display of jingoism was prompted by the Paris shooting massacre in November and fears — wildly driven by the Republican presidential rivals — that terrorists could infiltrate the United States as refugees despite a resettlement process that is one of the strictest in the world.


A federal district judge in Indianapolis punctured this fiction last week in blocking the attempt by Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana to cut off federal resettlement funds for Syrian refugees who had passed a vetting process that took up to two years. Mr. Pence’s order was unconstitutional and “clearly discriminates” against Syrians compared with other refugees, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in a suit brought by a nonprofit resettlement agency. The judge found that Mr. Pence’s move to withhold resettlement funds was “in no way” justified by his claim that his main concern was the safety of Indiana residents.


The ruling delivered a jolt of reality to the xenophobic politics now inflaming the presidential primary campaign. The state was forced to concede that it does not really have the authority to bar refugees from crossing into Indiana, a concession that no Republican governor was willing to make in the states-rights bombast of last fall. Mr. Pence had simply cut off the funding the refugees were entitled to — a tactic the judge excoriated. “This is essentially a policy of punishing Syrian refugees already in Indiana in the hopes that no more will come,” she wrote.


Resettlement lawyers said the ruling was the first to address substantively the attempt by some governors, mostly Republicans, to exploit the terrorism issue. The presidential candidates, of course, have been vying furiously to keep up with venomous nativism coming from Donald Trump and from Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who told a conservative radio interviewer that “I don’t think orphans under 5 are being, you know, should be admitted into the United States at this point.”


According to the State Department, 67 percent of the Syrian refugees referred to the United States for asylum are women and children under the age of 12. Mr. Trump has falsely suggested that federal officials steered Syrian refugees to states with Republican governors, when in fact resettlement decisions are made by mainstream social agencies like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Mr. Trump’s claim was one more example of propaganda being used to distort the truth on the refugee issue.


The fact is, the refugee resettlement program in this country involves a cautiously paced investigative process that contrasts sharply with the uncontrollable floods of refugees in Europe that Republican politicians are using to arouse terrorist fears in this country. Over three million people fleeing persecution and war have been investigated and welcomed to the United States in the last four decades. Syrian refugees must be no less welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Well written! I totally agree. We seem to be turning into a heartless nation of fear-mongers and liars. Through pieces like this and discussions on facebook, we can hope to influence even a few people. I'm sharing your link because it's THAT important. Thank you.

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