Another day, another opportunity to score some xenophobic points at the expense of Syrian refugees. Today, the Senate, including Montana’s Jon Tester, voted to block an absurd Republican-backed bill that would require the FBI chief, National Intelligence director, and Secretary of Homeland Security to personally certify that every refugee is not a security threat. One assumes that the bill would require all three to personally rifle through elementary school pictures of each applicant before denying each to appease Republican fear.
No doubt readying himself somewhere for another appearance on Fox News to demonize Syrian children, Representative Zinke used typically restrained language, suggesting that those who oppose his proposal to deny what should be our values are not loyal to the country:
I urge Senate Democrats who are more concerned with Obama’s legacy and election year politics than the safety of our nation to reconsider their allegiance.
Senator Daines took to Facebook to suggest that the most powerful country in the world is so incapable of screening refugees that we need to turn our eyes from the crisis:
Just now, Senate Democrats blocked debate on legislation that would increase security and screening measures for refugees seeking to enter the United States…. We are at war with radical Islamic extremism and it is irresponsible to accept anything less than a 100 percent verification of these refugees’ backgrounds before they enter the United States.
While Zinke and Daines continue to demagogue, the truth is that the United States has an incredibly stringent review process for vetting refugees, one that takes as long as two years and involves extensive background checks and interviews. Despite the fear mongering from Republicans like Zinke and Daines, the refugee screening process is extensive and does a great deal more to keep Americans safe than this xenophobic bill would ever do.
Even worse, Republicans voted today to block consideration of measures to restrict terrorists from purchasing guns and enhanced funding for homeland security.
The timing of this latest Republican effort to demonize Syrian refugees comes one day after the Holocaust Museum in Washington took possession of a flag from the refugee ship Exodus, which was famously turned away from British-controlled Palestine with 4,500 Holocaust survivors on board before having to return to Germany.
It’s perfectly understandable that Representative Zinke and Senator Daines are terrified of Syrian refugees, given the rhetoric of party leaders like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but it’s a moral shame to let that fear dictate inhumane policy that betrays the values we should aspire to as a nation.