ACLU Speaks out Against Governor Hogan's Call to Bar Syrian Refugees

November 17, 2015

For immediate release: November 17, 2015
Contact: Meredith Curtis, media@aclu-md.org, 443-310-9946


Statement of the ACLU on Governor Hogan's Request to Federal Government to Not Send Syrian Refugees to Maryland

 

The following can be attributed to Sirine Shebaya, attorney directing the ACLU of Maryland's immigrant's rights advocacy:


 "The ACLU of Maryland is deeply saddened by Governor Larry Hogan's request that the federal government not allow any more Syrian refugees to come to Maryland, a decision that goes against our common humanity. To shut the door in the face of those who are the most severely harmed by the very actions we so loudly condemn in Paris is to say that some lives - those of the Syrian refugees and their children - do not matter and are expendable.

 

Maryland did not hear calls to ban Irish immigrants when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was active, or calls to ban people from Spain when Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) was active.  The current calls have nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with our inability to see Syrian refugees as fellow humans doing the same thing people have done since time immemorial - flee war, death, and destruction.  To shut out Syrian families trying to rescue their children from persecution and in some cases starvation, is to refuse to help the victims of the very terrorism we decry.

 

Calls to bar Syrian refugees from American soil, in addition to being immoral, are also blatantly illegal. Refugee resettlement is a federal matter over which states have no authority. And freedom from racial profiling, religious discrimination, and discrimination based on national origin are at the heart of the values our constitution protects. Such calls go against our laws and our values, and are a dangerous invitation to the public at large to engage in the same illegal and immoral discriminatory conduct.


Moreover, singling out refugees doesn't make practical sense. The U.S. already has a rigorous and multi-layered security screening program in place for refugees seeking to resettle here. All refugees must pass multiple background checks, biometric tests, medical screenings, and in-person interviews with the Department of Homeland Security. They are subjected to more screening than any other individual who travels to the U.S.


The U.S. has long been a leader in refugee protection and resettlement. Now, more than ever, we must show courageous and bold leadership, and resist condemning people because of where they are from."