Friday, November 20, 2015

A Letter to My Senators

I've had very little time for writing recently, but I did make time to write this. I'm sharing it here in case you are moved to do the same. No rights reserved; disseminate freely and without restriction.

Find out how to contact your senators here.

I am moved to write to urge you in the strongest possible terms to vote against H.R. 4038, the so-called "American SAFE Act of 2015," when it comes to the Senate floor.

This irresponsible and cowardly piece of legislation—conceived in a panicked overreaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris—is a disaster on multiple levels. It projects fear and weakness to our enemies abroad. It is a betrayal of our national values of openness and welcome towards refugees, and a colossal failure in our moral obligation to help the less fortunate. And it penalizes innocents who are already suffering greatly, while doing nothing to punish the perpetrators of terror; indeed, it hands ISIS a propaganda victory

The goal of asymmetrical warfare like ISIS' war against the West is to provoke one's enemy into injuring himself. By responding with fear, we play into ISIS' hands. The US should be a beacon of hope for refugees, and should stand unambiguously with those in Syria who are the victims of ISIS. By abandoning those victims, we allow despair and further radicalization to flourish in the region.

This bill an asinine bit of showboating for the xenophobic and nativist wing of the GOP—and that constituency surely needs no further encouragement. I urge you to stand against it, and to encourage other senators to do the same.

And just as importantly, I ask you to support measures to help alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis more effectively. On October 28, President Obama was sent a letter co-signed by the Syrian-American Council, the Niskanen Center, and a number of other charitable groups, asking him to renew the Private Sector Initiative (PSI), a pilot program for the private sponsorship of individuals wishing to enter the US via the State Department's refugee resettlement program. The PSI operated successfully from 1988 to 1993, and helped resettle almost 16,000 refugees in an efficient and cost-effective fashion. (A similar program has been operating in Canada since 1978, and has helped resettle nearly 230,000 people.) Please consider sponsoring a resolution to renew this program. Taking in refugees is not only an expression of compassion; it actually makes our nation stronger and safer in the long run, by undercutting radicalization abroad.

Thank you for your consideration and for your dedicated public service.

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