AILA: Backlash Against Refugees Unbefitting of America

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) called on Congress, state governors, and the American people to resist anti-refugee and anti-immigrant fear mongering following the violent, tragic attacks in Paris and Beirut last week.

"First and foremost, our hearts go out to the people of Paris and Beirut in this time of tragedy," said AILA President Victor Nieblas Pradis. He continued, "Our hearts also go out to all the refugees who have fled from war and civil conflict in the world. Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror which unfolded last week. They need protection and assistance, not barred and locked doors, or closed borders."

The United States has a proud history as a global humanitarian leader, one that has protected refugees from every part of the world. It is imperative that we not retreat from this legacy when confronted with these recent violent attacks. Instead we must demonstrate the strength of our beliefs and renew our commitment to humanitarian protection worldwide.

Calls by some lawmakers and governors to deny resettlement and protection to refugees are not only uninformed, but also betray these fundamental values. The security of our nation and its residents is paramount. Refugees currently undergo the most rigorous security screening process of anyone who comes to the U.S.: they are handpicked and go through multiple layers of security checks involving the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and intelligence agencies. Only after undergoing this rigorous screening, which typically takes two-to-three years, are those who are cleared permitted to come to the U.S. Moreover, governors have no legal authority to bar any refugee who has been carefully screened and lawfully admitted from entering their states It would be unlawful, unconstitutional, and preposterous in this century for them to block their borders to someone in such a discriminatory way.

No one who enters the U.S. is given more careful scrutiny than refugees, and there is absolutely no need for Congress to pass any additional security measures. We urge Senators and Representatives to demonstrate leadership by supporting the U.S. refugee resettlement program and urging the resettlement of at least 200,000 refugees in the current fiscal year, including 100,000 Syrians.

###

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 15111730.