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In the face of restrictionist attempts to keep desperate refugees who are fleeing war, violence and Islamist extremism in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa out of the US by using overblown "security" arguments and other thinly veiled appeals to anti-Muslim prejudice, the residents of one American city, St Louis, are rallying in favor of the refugees, using the cry: "Bring them here!"
This appeal is not just by Syrians or Muslims, but by residents of all backgrounds, in a city which has recently been hardly free of racial strife itself. The Guardian reports as follows on September 14:
"On 13 September, hundreds of St. Louis area residents converged in a parking lot in the [St. Louis] suburb of University City to demand that the US government raise the cap on the number of Syrian refugees allowed in the country - and settle at least 60,000 of them in St. Louis."
The rally, which included speeches from religious leaders, Muslim activists and Syrians, culminated in a march through a University City's business district, where the streets echoed with a recurrent cry: 'Bring them here! Bring them here!'
"One of the things that makes this march so amazing is that this march is for Syrians, but not by Syrians', said Faizan Syed, the organizer of the march. 'it's done by people of all different races, backgrounds and religions. All of them are coming together because they are witnessing a tragedy overseas. And when they witness that, they want to make sure they can do something about it.'"
America was founded by people who wanted to escape suffering and persecution. That has always been our spirit and our highest ideal as a nation. Let us hope that there will be rallies in many more American cities to accept much greater numbers of Syrian, Middle Eastern and African refugees than the tiny number of 10,000 Syrian refugees timidly suggested by President Obama.
A good place for these rallies to continue would be near the White House. If Germany, a much smaller country, can offer to accept one million Syrian refugees, certainly America can do the same. Yes, of course they need security checks, along with everybody else.
But the critics who say that the mere fact that most of them are Muslims poses such a danger to America that our security apparatus would not be able handle it do not really understand what America means. These refugees, who have risked their lives (as thousands of their fellow refugees have already drowned) and those of their families to escape from intolerable conditions at home, are the least likely of all to be a danger to America. They deserve our humanity and support, not xenophobia and prejudice.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas, green cards and US citizenship. His email is email@example.com
Updated 09-15-2015 at 09:40 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs