Republicans are victim-blaming Syrian refugees for the Paris terror attacks

Bethan McKernan@mck_beth
Tuesday 17 November 2015 11:40
news

There has been a marked change to the already lukewarm US enthusiasm for accepting Syrian refugees in the wake of the Isis terror attacks in Paris last week.

A Syrian passport - later confirmed to be fake - which was used to enter Europe in Greece in October was found on the body of one of the dead attackers at the Stade de France. On Tuesday, a Serbian man carrying a passport with the same details but a different picture was arrested, and reports are emerging that the original passport belonged to a dead Assad regime soldier.

Despite doubts over the passport's authenticity from the moment it was found, the discovery has stoked fears on both sides of the Atlantic that militant jihadis are among those legitimately seeking safety from the horrors of the war in Syria.

While states in the US are obligated by federal law to allow entry to people with refugee status, it appears new arrivals won't be receiving a warm welcome. No fewer than 27 state governors - all but one of whom are Republican - have now said that will actively prevent Syrian refugees from settling in their states.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has said specifically that allowing refugees the right to get a job in an airport, or hold drivers licenses (and thus purchase a gun), were the reasons why he couldn't allow refugees in:

California, when they issue [driving] licences to non-citizens, specifically says that it is not to be used for a federal purpose, not to be used for employment and that means it cannot be used to board a plane... and presumably it could not be used to purchase a gun.

GOP presidential candidates have changed their tune, too, citing the impossibility of properly vetting every new entry on to American soil.

Donald Trump has called the refugee crisis a "Trojan horse", and in a radio interview on Monday presidential candidate and governor of New Jersey Chris Christie said that even orphans should not be allowed humanitarian asylum in the US because of the greater threat posted to American safety:

The fact is that we need for appropriate vetting, and I don't think that orphans under five should be admitted to the United States at this point.

We need to put the safety and security of the American people first.

The only GOP candidate who is still in favour of accepting Syrian refugees into the US is Jeb Bush - and he only wants to take in Christians:

I do think we have a responsibility to help with refugees after proper screening. And I think our focus ought to be on the Christians who have no place in Syria anymore.

Rupert Murdoch, who owns a little bit of everything in the Western world's media, echoed the sentiment that Christian lives matter more than Muslim ones in a tweet on Monday.

Since the outbreak of war in 2011, the US has taken in just 1,500 Syrians fleeing the conflict. President Obama has said another 10,000 will be re-homed in the US in 2017.

Many have noted the Republican hypocrisy over valuing some lives more than others - not least Obama, who said at the G20 summit in Turkey yesterday:

When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who is fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted... that's not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.

Even Fox News host Shep Smith couldn't stomach the misdirection. "Today we mourn, but we cannot allow ourselves to become like those who want to destroy us. We cannot resort to the tactics of the barbarians,” he said:


Sadly, the hardened attitudes to the plight of those fleeing war are not only predictable - it's exactly what Isis wanted to happen.

More: Paris terror attacks latest: what you need to know

More: Barack Obama has a message for Republicans who only want to let Syrian Christians into America

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