Thursday, February 2, 2017

Angelina Jolie: Refugee Policy Should Be Based on Facts, Not Fear

Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie has written an excellent op/ed piece in the NY Times on the above subject, which can be accessed by clicking here.
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Jolie writes, "Refugees are men, women and children caught in the fury of war, or the cross hairs of persecution. Far from being terrorists, they are often the victims of terrorism themselves...  The decision to suspend the resettlement of refugees to the United States and deny entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with shock by our friends around the world precisely because of this record."

She continues, "And in fact only a minuscule fraction — less than 1 percent — of all refugees in the world are ever resettled in the United States or any other country. There are more than 65 million refugees and displaced people worldwide. Nine out of 10 refugees live in poor and middle-income countries, not in rich Western nations. There are 2.8 million Syrian refugees in Turkey alone. Only about 18,000 Syrians have been resettled in America since 2011.
This disparity points to another, more sobering reality. If we send a message that it is acceptable to close the door to refugees, or to discriminate among them on the basis of religion, we are playing with fire. We are lighting a fuse that will burn across continents, inviting the very instability we seek to protect ourselves against."

She asks, "What will be our response if other countries use national security as an excuse to start turning people away, or deny rights on the basis of religion? What could this mean for the Rohingya from Myanmar, or for Somali refugees, or millions of other displaced people who happen to be Muslim? And what does this do to the absolute prohibition in international law against discrimination on the grounds of faith or religion?"

She correctly opines, "If we create a tier of second-class refugees, implying Muslims are less worthy of protection, we fuel extremism abroad, and at home we undermine the ideal of diversity cherished by Democrats and Republicans alike: “America is committed to the world because so much of the world is inside America,” in the words of Ronald Reagan. If we divide people beyond our borders, we divide ourselves.
The lesson of the years we have spent fighting terrorism since Sept. 11 is that every time we depart from our values we worsen the very problem we are trying to contain. We must never allow our values to become the collateral damage of a search for greater security. Shutting our door to refugees or discriminating among them is not our way, and does not make us safer. Acting out of fear is not our way. Targeting the weakest does not show strength."

She concludes by stating, "We have to make common cause with people of all faiths and backgrounds fighting the same threat and seeking the same security. This is where I would hope any president of our great nation would lead on behalf of all Americans."

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