New Ad: Freedom, Not Fear, Must Guide Refugee Policy

Conservative Leaders Echo Calls to Honor American Values

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An advertisement running today on the Politico and Washington Times websites urges a conversation about refugees that adheres to American values.

The ad features the words of President Reagan, who simultaneously kept America safe in the midst of the Cold War and welcomed refugees from the Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam and elsewhere as the “Great Liberator.”

Echoing the theme of the ad, conservative leaders are calling on Congress to recognize the security procedures already in place during the refugee screening process and not to create a process so strict that it in effect brings the U.S. refugee program to a halt.

“Refugees look to come here because they have a credible fear that they’re going to be killed,” said Alfonso Aguilar, Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. “We need to be mindful, yes. But we don’t want to be on the wrong side of history here, as we were during the years of Nazi Germany. Not only is this a moral issue, but Republican opposition to refugee resettlement could come back to haunt the GOP in 2016 if voters view it as extreme and intolerant.”

“Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS,” said Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals. “We are horrified and heartbroken by the terrorist atrocities in Paris, but must not forget that there are thousands more victims of these same terrorists who are fleeing Syria with their families and desperately need someplace to go. Our system is designed to keep terrorists out and to help desperate families with little children. We want to help the victims of terrorism in the Middle East, not punish them.”

“I’ve learned that people don’t ever really want to leave home,” said Chef José Andrés, Chef/Owner of minibar by José Andrés and ThinkFoodGroup. “They are compelled to do so and risk great dangers to pursue better lives for their families. Immigrants and refugees deserve our respect and compassion, not fear or disdain.”

“We are facing a critical moment as a people: Will we acquiesce to fear, ignoring the facts and blaming the victims of war instead of its perpetrators? Or will we find courage within ourselves to honor the vision, values and faith that have made our nation great?” said Stephan Bauman, President and CEO of World Relief. “When we welcome refugees, we honor our legacy — most of us are refugees or immigrants, just a generation or more removed — and we honor the truth because the data is clear: Refugees are not dangerous but a blessing.” 

“Many who serve in law enforcement immigrated to this country in search for a better life,” said Carmen Best, Deputy Chief, Seattle Police Department. “We stand with the National Immigration Forum and encourage Congress to continue to welcome those seeking refuge with open arms.”

“If America abandons its tradition of welcoming those fleeing persecution, the terrorists will have won,” said Linda Chavez, conservative columnist. “We must carefully screen refugees, but we must not allow the terrorists to frighten us into forsaking our values.”

“The vetting of refugees is a strict and thorough process, one that has been strengthened since Sept. 11, 2001,” said Chief Michael C. Koval, Chief of Police, Madison Police Department, Madison, Wis. “It often takes more than a year to complete. Most of these refugees are women and children fleeing violence and persecution. As Chief of Police, it is my duty to protect my community, but these refugees often become part of that community and we owe them the same compassionate response. Our nation is better when we act with moral courage rather than fear.”

“In these days our faith must be greater than our fear and we must courageously continue to follow the teachings of Scripture to welcome the stranger,” said Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.

“It is critical to recognize that, while always working to improve processes, refugees undergo a rigorous, intra-agency screening process,” said Michael Masters, Senior Vice President, The Soufan Group. “More importantly, since its inception, our nation has stood as a beacon of hope for those escaping persecution and violence.  Blindly closing the doors to refugees who seek safe haven not only undermines the safeguards that we have in place, but reflects a poor understanding of the threats that we face and abandons the values that millions of Americans have fought so hard to protect.”

“During this period of shared grief for the victims of the attacks in Paris, it is essential that the world knows the America we do  the land of freedom and opportunity,” said Bob Naerebout, Executive Director of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association. “It is time for the Congress and the administration to work together on a plan to do our part to help resolve the Syrian refugee crisis in a way that reassures Americans of both our national security and our personal safety so that this country will continue to be the haven for the persecuted and oppressed that we always have been.”

“We must honor our nation’s enduring vision. We welcome people who are fleeing violence and persecution,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund. “We need to honor President Reagan’s vision and ensure that freedom prevails, not fear.”







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