UPDATE: ACLU raps governor for opposition to helping Syrian refugees | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UPDATE: ACLU raps governor for opposition to helping Syrian refugees

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2015 at 2:48 PM

The Arkansas chapter of the ACLU has issued a statement criticizing Gov. Asa Hutchinson's opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to live in Arkansas. Said Executive Director Rita Sklar:

“We are disappointed in Gov. Hutchinson’s attempt to refuse to allow Syrian refugees to settle in Arkansas. By turning his back on those fleeing a brutal conflict and seeking a safe place for them and their children to rest, Governor Hutchinson dishonors the values of the hospitable people of Arkansas and the ideals upon which this great country was founded.

“Every schoolchild knows that American colonies were started as safe havens for the victims of tyranny and prejudice. America is known worldwide as the welcoming beacon to the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

“By attempting to exclude this one group of people and tarnish them with the stain of terrorism, of which they themselves are victims, Governor Hutchinson is appealing to fear and prejudice, and thereby debasing us as Arkansans and Americans. I say ‘attempting,’ because governors do not have this power.

Refugee settlement is the purview of the U.S. State Department and an extremely rigorous process involving multiple background checks and vetting by the Department of Homeland Security. Given the fact that states have no power over immigration, and cannot bar people from its borders because of their nationality, the governor’s position is not only un-American, but unconstitutional; it is pure grandstanding and appeals to our worst instincts.

“We call on Governor Hutchinson to instead affirm Arkansas and American values, and offer sanctuary, not condemnation and rejection, to those in need.”

UPDATE: The governor got on the phone with reporters from Japan today and reiterated his opposition, saying the well-developed GOP line that sufficient security can't be guaranteed. No, in today's world, there are no absolute guarantees. Not in Connecticut elementary schools, Oregon colleges, Army bases in Texas and so on. But we do our best and we try to live up to the American ideal. Or some do. Hutchinson seems to focus on the unsuitable location of Arkansas for a "facility." But what about a simple Syrian family, cleared through the long and hard vetting process and sponsored to a willing home or community in our state through Catholic Charities' resettlement program? Too dangerous for Arkansas?

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