According to an article in the New York Times today, governors in almost half of the states in the United States have told President Obama that they do not support his plan to accept 10,000 refugees into the United States from Syria and they do not want the refugees to enter their states.
There are two issues here: (1) the acceptance of refugees into the United States from Syria and (2) the ability of a state to keep people out. The governors have blended the two, to their discredit.
It is legitimate to be concerned with security. Everyone we admit into the United States should undergo security/background checks. But once immigrants have done that, people should be free to live where they want to live. We do not live in the former Soviet Union. We do not have internal passports and we do not restrict internal migration. Yes, everyone is scared, but we cannot allow a governor to say who should be allowed to live in a state and who should not.
I do not know if the governors were serious. Maybe they were trying to score some political points. Assuming they were serious, how do they think they can control who is going to live in their state?
Let’s assume that such an idea actually is placed into law and that the governors are successful in preventing refugees from entering their particular state. Such a law, if it could even be passed, would set a dangerous precedent. We cannot allow the government to say that people of a certain religion cannot live somewhere. Right now it is the Muslims. Next it could be ——– [fill in the blank with an unpopular religion or minority.] We do not have to go far back in our nation’s history to remember the internment camps for Japanese, or in our world’s history to remember Nazi Germany’s “laws” against Jews.
If safety is our concern, we should focus on safety from the beginning, not on hatred once people are properly admitted into the United States.