Still trembling in fear and consumed by the kind of bigotry that led this nation to intern its Japanese citizens during World War 2 and turn away the Jews before and during the Holocaust, Representative Ryan Zinke is working hard to keep children dying in the Middle East from being resettled here as refugees. To that end, he’s cosponsored a piece of legislation that would allow any state governor to block refugees from coming to his/her state.
That Zinke is a bigot who is terrified of refugees has already been established. That he’s willing to lie about the complex process refugees have to follow before they come to any state has already been demonstrated. And now, he’s willing to show that he either doesn’t understand or believe in the Constitution, if such ignorance will give him another opportunity to hit the right wing media circuit to reassure the bedwetting crowd that he’s “tough” on dying children.
State governors certainly don’t have—and can’t be given—the power to regulate immigration. Of course, it’s federal policy, not subject to the whims of state governors who might be eager to stoke fears or hatred against migrants. Surely, a “constitutional Republican” is aware that immigration is not a state issue, but it seems Representative Zinke is permitting his fear to overpower his understanding of the law.
And the change in the law Zinke is proposing is as idiotic as his proposal to restrict Syrian refugees was before, this time allowing a state to block any refugee, if “in the sole determination of the Governor… the alien does not present a security risk to the State.” Giving that power to the 31 governors who are more interested in the political expedience of demonizing refugees than acting upon human decency and morality to help the powerless would be terrible policy.
Representative Zinke talks a lot about “American values,” often suggesting that his political opponents lack an understanding of them. What’s becoming increasingly clear, however, is that Mr. Zinke’s understanding of American values does not reflect the thought of someone who’s learned from the moral failures of the United States when it condemned Jews to die in the Holocaust, locked up loyal Japanese-Americans in internment camps, and exploited the labor migrant workers from across the world. Instead, he seems dedicated to embracing the worst of our xenophobic past and repeating it in the face of another humanitarian crisis.
Update: It’s hard not to feel a bit embarrassed when the response of Canada looks like this: