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Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Members of the US House of Representatives

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “Turning our backs on those escaping persecution, many of them religious minorities and victims of terrorism, runs counter to the proud and generous heritage of the United States – a country of immigrants – that has always helped those in need in the most trying times.” [11/18/15]

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA): “Shutting the door of America completely to those who are seeking asylum or refuge is not our tradition.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN): “We must ensure that not only refugees from Syria and Iraq, but also refugees from every country are subject to a rigorous screening process that ensures no terrorist or criminals are allowed access to the United States. We can do this while also maintaining our core humanitarian values. The House bill passed today is instead nothing more than a political attack on President Obama and does nothing to make us safer from terrorist or criminal threats.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD): “Turning our backs on refugees fleeing the same senseless violence we witnessed in Paris is not just heartless, it is a betrayal of America’s values. Preserving the safety of Maryland’s residents and providing refuge for Syrians fleeing violence are not mutually exclusive; we can and must do both.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO): “It is vital that we continue our commitment to accepting refugees. Join me tomorrow morning and say loud and clear: we won’t give in to fear mongering.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): “America must be resolute in the face of terror and never allow our enemies to scare us into retreating behind walls and abandoning our values.” [11/18/15]

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD): “We must remember the enemy is ISIS, not the refugees who are fleeing the region. I believe strongly that as Americans we cannot deny people shelter and safety based on stereotyping and xenophobia; it runs counter to who we are as a nation. We have the ability and the resources to welcome refugees, while taking all necessary steps to ensure our own security at the same time.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): “A lot of these people are victims of [IS]. And if we’re going to fight [IS], we need to help its victims.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA): “The strength of our nation is found in our willingness to help those most in need. Turning our back on those fleeing terror and destruction would mean turning our back on the values that make this country great. America can stay true to those values without compromising our security.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): “Even in the wake of a series of devastating terror attacks, the French government has already reaffirmed its commitment to accepting refugees. The United States should do the same. “Instead of embracing the politics of fear and division, I call on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to preserve the American tradition of welcoming those ‘yearning to breathe free’ from around the world.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL): “Let us…rise above sectarian fears, rise above the underlying layer of xenophobia that often surfaces in this country at moments like this throughout our history. And let us maintain America’s commitment to being a beacon of hope for those fleeing oppression, violence, and intolerance.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA): “We are committed to our country’s founding principles, to open our doors to the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be free, to treat everyone equally under the law, and to never discriminate based on religion. And those cowardly extremists despise that.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “It is shameful that Governor Hogan and others would seek to exploit people’s justifiable safety concerns by further fueling their fears. We can protect our security and uphold our values by carefully vetting refugees fleeing the horror of ISIS.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA): “I am hopeful we will not allow our anger and outrage towards these terrorists and their cowardly attacks on civilians to turn us away from compassion and generosity…As a world leader, we need to help these people escape from the brutal ISIL regime – they are fleeing the very perpetrators of these senseless acts of violence.” [11/18/15]

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX): “America can both welcome refugees AND ensure our nation’s security. In our fight against terrorism we must continue to honor our values…World’s mightiest nation mustn’t fear providing haven to world’s most vulnerable, like Syrian mothers & children.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA): “As vulnerable families pursue asylum from the terror being waged in Syria and Iraq, I hope we will remain a model for the world. I want future generations to look back at this time and see that we stood for American values and helped those in need.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN): “(H.R. 4038) is a Republican ploy that is cruel, callous, and a blatant display of xenophobia used to energize a political base that is motivated by a hatred of immigrants. This legislation is not designed to protect our national security interests, but rather will be used as a political weapon to attack Democrats who still believe our nation should be a safe haven for vulnerable people seeking freedom from persecution and the threat of death.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA): “Turning our back on these refugees now is not the answer. It would only further isolate these communities and increase instability in an already dangerous region. We have an opportunity to help end the cycle of violence by giving these refugees a second chance.” [11/16/15]

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): “It’s a shame that Governor Baker doesn’t know the difference between refugees and those from whom they need refuge.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): “When we change our values, ISIS wins.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): “Shutting the door on Syrian refugees who are fleeing the very terrorists we’re fighting is inconsistent with our values and will not help us defeat ISIS.” [11/20/15]

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA): “We should not let ISIS win by giving into fearmongering and changing our values. We must remain steadfast and resolute in who we are as a people and a nation: a beacon of hope for all those ‘yearning to breathe free.’ That is who we have long been. To turn our backs on our heritage and history now is to give ISIS exactly what it wants.” [11/23/15]

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “The United States has always been, and should always be, a place of refuge…To stop thousands of desperate people who are fleeing unspeakable violence is unconscionable. We might as well take down the Statue of Liberty.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH): “Whether it is the Statue of Liberty, given to us by France, which says ‘give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses’ or the scriptures that tell us in Matthew 25:35, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me’. There are no qualifiers on these statements that say to dismiss them if you are scared.” [11/16/15]

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL): “It is important that our nation comes together and does not give in to the hateful rhetoric of fear and division. Closing our borders at this precise moment would only deepen the problems in Syria and in the Middle East, creating many more down the road.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): “Being a constructive part of the refugee crisis is vital to our coalition partners. It’s hard for us to call on them to do more in terms of refugees, in terms of the war effort, if we’re unwilling to take on some component of this humanitarian crisis ourselves.” [11/17/15]

Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY): “We can both welcome refugees AND ensure our nation’s security. In the fight against terrorism America must continue to honor its values.” [11/19/15]

Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA): “We want to make sure that we don’t act like we’re against all Muslims, and yes, if we say we won’t take any, it aggravates it at least a little bit. There is a component [of the war effort], yes, that says it’s not us versus the Muslims.” [11/17/15]

Members of the US Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “Normally, [terrorists] look more like me than they look like Middle Easterners…They are generally white males, who have shot up people in movie theaters and schools.” [11/25/15]

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD): “US leadership is not just because we have a strong military — it’s because we have universal values that we stick up for, and part of that is dealing with a crisis such as the Syrian refugees. I think it does deal with our credibility.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE): “We were also moved when he invoked the words of Matthew 25: ‘When I was hungry, did you feed me; when I was naked, did you clothe me; when I was thirsty, did you give me drink; when I was a stranger in your land, did you take me in?’…I think of the desperate plight of a lot of people who are trying to escape a hellacious situation in Syria. They’ve been living, in some cases months or years, in refugee camps. What kind of moral imperative do we have with respect to taking them in?” [11/17/15]

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA): “Offering asylum for refugees, whatever conflict they are fleeing, is consistent with our values and history. We cannot turn our back on Syrian refugees. Turning them away on the basis of religion or ethnicity is inconsistent with our principles as a nation.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL): “We do everything humanly possible and take extraordinary efforts to make certain that dangerous people do not arrive on our shores. That vetting process must continue…But those who are focusing on that as the answer to what happened in Paris are very shortsighted.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “Let’s remember that the enemy in the current scenario is ISIS, not the refugees who flee from their destruction. We simply will not have the moral standing as a nation to lead in this international crisis if we ignore those who have lost everything at the hands of these barbaric terrorists.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): “The notion of ‘no Syrian can ever come here’ is antithetical to our values – especially when the innocent civilians and families seeking refuge in our country are fleeing the very violence and terror we saw in France and Lebanon that they experience every day in Syria.” [11/18/15]

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): “I was concerned we were shortcutting the vetting to meet a quota. … I was told absolutely not, there would be no shortcutting of any vetting process.” [11/20/15]

Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA): “We should not close our hearts or our doors to the women, children and families that are fleeing the Middle East to escape war and the daily terror, violence and chaos it brings…America has always been a refuge for the persecuted and oppressed.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): “At this stage I don’t think we should be pausing the process of admitting Syrian refugees.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV): “We are America. We come to the defense of the defenseless. We come to the aid of those in need. And right now, we are needed. We, as a nation of freedom, should not forsake our duty and obligation to these struggling people.” [11/19/15]

For Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), see the “2016 Presidential Candidates” section.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “No, I think the appropriate place to focus is the visa waiver program and the ability for terrorists to buy guns. We had a very good briefing. What they showed is this, that there are about 2,000 refugees that have come here from Syria over the last four years. None have been arrested or deported for terrorism. None.” [11/19/15]

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM): “Refusing to help those who have passed repeated vettings will not keep us safer. It will fuel the terrorists’ hateful anti-Western ideology…Knee-jerk, fear-driven policies that would deny help to desperate children and innocent families are contrary to America’s history and values.” [11/17/15]

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS because some politician doesn’t like their religion.” [11/17/15]

US Federal Government Officials and Agencies

John Brennan, Director of the CIA: “What we don’t want to do is to have these terrorists succeed in taking away the freedoms and liberties that we pride ourselves on…there is a rush by some to say that borders should be closed, we should isolate ourselves. That is inconsistent with what I think our societies have been founded on over the last several hundreds of years.” [11/16/15]

Secretary of State John Kerry: “It is time for the bleeding in Syria to stop…It is time that we come together to help the Syrian people embark on the difficult but extraordinarily high imperative of rebuilding their country.” [11/14/15]

President Barack Obama: “Slamming the door in [Syrian refugees’] faces would be a betrayal of our values…We have to remember that many of these refugees are victims of terror. That’s why they’re fleeing.” [11/16/15]

President Barack Obama: “When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.” [11/16/15]

President Barack Obama: “Prejudice and discrimination helps ISIL and undermines our national security.” [11/22/15]

The White House Office of Management and Budget: “This legislation [to “strengthen” the Syrian refugee vetting process] would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism.” [11/18/15]

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes: “We’re still planning on taking in Syrian refugees…There are women and children, orphans of this war, and I think we need to do our part along with our allies to provide them a safe haven.” [11/15/15]

United States Holocaust Museum: “The plight of the Syrian people thus has grave implications for security and interests throughout the world.” [11/19.15]

Veterans, Former Government Officials, and Former Members of Congress

Fmr. Secretaries of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano: “The process that is currently in place is thorough and robust and…it will allow us to safely admit the most vulnerable refugees while protecting the American people…these goals are not mutually exclusive.” [11/19/15]

Fmr. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “By making Syrian refugees the enemy, we are playing into [the Islamic State’s] hands. Instead, we need to clarify that the real choice is between those who think it is OK to murder innocent people and those who think it is wrong. By showing that we value every human life, we can make clear to the world where we stand. [11/17/15]

Fmr. Rep. Tom Andrews (D-ME): “Fear trumped compassion and common sense in the House of Representatives today. Playing fast and loose with the fear card in Washington does not end well. We have seen this movie before.” [11/19/15]

Fmr. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers: “ISIS wants to make this a clash of civilizations. Closing our borders to those fleeing war and persecution feeds their narrative. Why should we be helping them make their case? Why should we be turning on our own values?” [11/18/15]

Fmr. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff: “[The refugee vetting process is] a secure and reliable way of making sure you didn’t let in people who were trying to come under false pretenses…It allows us to truthfully say that we’re not hypocrites or bigoted against Muslims or people from other cultures. That has a positive impact in terms of the disposition people around the world have toward the U.S.” [11/18/15]

For Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, see the “2016 Presidential Candidates” section.

Fmr. Ambassador Ryan Crocker: “turning against Syrians fleeing horror and violence in the Middle East is precisely the wrong response to last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. In fact, Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is looking for proof that the West stands against Arabs and Muslims. Throughout history the U.S. has offered refuge to people fleeing persecution, and the world needs America again.” [11/17/15]

Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.): “We are a country with Muslims in it. And why wouldn’t we welcome Muslims and others from around the world like we’ve always done who are being persecuted? We didn’t care about their religion or their nationality. What we cared about is they were humans running from suffering and death, and there was a home for people like that in America.” [11/18/15]

Captain Phil Klay (USMC, Ret.): “If we want to be the kind of nation that others will follow, the kind of nation capable of forging strong links in the Muslim world against extremism, then we have to behave like that kind of nation…It’s only during frightening times when you get to find out if your country really deserves to call itself the ‘home of the brave.’” [11/19/15]

Fmr. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “What the United States has done is to be open to people who are fleeing tyranny, who are fleeing danger, but we have done it in a very careful way that has worked for us.” [11/16/15]

2016 Presidential Candidates

Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We’ve seen a lot of hateful rhetoric from the GOP. But the idea that we’d turn away refugees because of religion is a new low.” [11/17/15]

Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We can’t act as though we are shutting the door to people in need without undermining who we are as Americans.” [11/17/15]

Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We cannot allow terrorists to intimidate us into abandoning our values and our humanitarian obligations. Turning away orphans, applying a religious test, discriminating against Muslims, slamming the door on every Syrian refugee, that is just not who we are. We are better than that. We should be doing more to ease this humanitarian crisis, not less.” [11/19/15]

Fmr. Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD): “There are women, there are children dying…They are fleeing the same sort of carnage that was unleashed on the people of France… I don’t think it’s too much to ask of us that we do our part here.” [11/16/15]

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “What terrorism is about is trying to instill terror and fear into the hearts of people. And we will not let that happen. We will not be terrorized or live in fear. During these difficult times, we will not succumb to Islamophobia. We will not turn our backs on the refugees who are fleeing Syria and Afghanistan. We will do what we do best and that is be Americans – fighting racism, fighting xenophobia, fighting fear.” [11/17/15]

State Governors

Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT): “Montana has a process in place for considering refugee settlement requests; we are reviewing those protocols to ensure that if a request comes, we take all appropriate steps to ensure that the safety of Montanans will not be jeopardized by their placement.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN): “My first priority is to protect the safety of the people of Minnesota. I have been assured by the White House that all refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States.” [11/16/15]

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO): “We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [11/16/15]

Gov. David Ige (D-HI): “As President Obama has said – slamming the door in their face would be a betrayal of our values. Hawai‘i and our nation have a long history of welcoming refugees impacted by war and oppression. Hawai‘i is the Aloha State, known for its tradition of welcoming all people with tolerance and mutual respect.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA): “Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice. We have been and will continue to be a state that embraces compassion and eschews fear mongering.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT): “If refugees – many who are children fleeing a horrific, war-torn country – seek and are granted asylum after a rigorous security process, we should and will welcome them in Connecticut.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE): “It is unfortunate that anyone would use the tragic events in Paris to send a message that we do not understand the plight of these refugees, ignoring the fact that the people we are talking about are fleeing the perpetrators of terror.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Jack Markell (D-DE): “Ronald Reagan once stood for ‘America’s tradition as a land that welcomes peoples from other countries,’ and one that shares with other countries ‘the responsibility of welcoming and resettling those who flee oppression.’ It is a shame the Republicans nationally who would close our borders do not share Reagan’s commitment to America being a welcoming country to those seeking safety from fear and persecution.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA): “[As] governors, there’s nothing we can do [in terms of refusing to resettle Syrian refugees]. Zero. It is the United States Constitution. If you want to go back and deal with that, that’s a different issue. But right now, I don’t need to be spending my time on political rhetoric trying to score political points. I’m trying to be a job creator and a problem solver.” [11/24/15]

Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO): “Everybody’s on edge, in the whole world…But being on edge doesn’t mean we should change our basic values — doesn’t mean we should change what makes America great.” [11/18/15]

Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT): “The governors who are [turning away Syrian refugees] are stomping on the qualities that make America great…which is reaching out to folks when they’re in trouble and offering them help, not hurting them.” [11/16/15]

Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA): “We must not lose sight of the fact that families leaving Syria are trying to escape the same violence and unimaginable terror that took place in Paris and Beirut.” [11/16/15]

Members of State Legislatures

125 state legislators from 31 states: “Many…refugees are fleeing the same terror that unfolded in France, after years of facing violence at home. It’s easy, and maybe even popular, to give into fears at a time like this, but we must check the facts and rely on our deepest held values to find a balanced approach to the threats facing our country and the world. We thank the handful of governors who have stood against the fear-mongering and proclaimed their states open and ready to welcome refugee families in need.” [11/23/15]

State Rep. Marti Anderson (D-IA): “I am disappointed by Governor Branstad’s position against accepting Syrian refugees to Iowa…Iowans are wisely cautious — and deeply compassionate. We have been blessed with new Iowans who came as refugees from Southeast Asia, Southeast Europe and the Balkans, Central America, Africa, and, yes, even the Middle East. These refugees have enriched our culture, helped meet Iowa’s employee shortages, created small businesses, and become citizens.” [11/23/15]

State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-MI): “Michigan is supposed to be a welcoming state, and the governor’s office seems to be moving backward on that positive momentum. Providing assistance to those fleeing crisis in their home country should be a priority if we are truly to be a pro-immigrant, pro-refugee state.” [11/23/15]

State Delegate Shelly Hettleman (D-MD): “We are better than painting an entire people with the brush of the few who are terrorists. We are better than judging an entire culture on the actions of a few who are dangerous. And we are better than slamming the door on a whole community of people because of their religious beliefs.” [11/23/15]

City Mayors

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh: “As a city and as a country it is not our custom to turn our backs on people who are in need and who are innocent.” [11/16/15]

Media Organizations and Individuals

Jesse Berney, Rolling Stone: “If we want a world where terrorists can no longer recruit young people…we have to show that the United States is not their enemy. Welcoming those fleeing terror is a critical first step.” [11/14/15]

Boston Globe Editorial Board: “‘We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,’ Obama said. Our inclusive values are part of what separates us from the Islamic State. Obama has not always been right about Syria, but he’s right about this.” [11/16/15]

Michael Cohen, Boston Globe: “You don’t get to beat your chest talking about American values and then refuse to accept those refugees escaping the terrorists that we correctly call barbarians. It is, as President Obama correctly pointed out, ‘not American,’ and a fundamental betrayal of the values that we, as a nation, allegedly hold so dear.” [11/17/15]

Daily Kos: “Terrorists act to divide us, to stoke fear, and amplify hate…We cannot give in to fear. Tell President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject hate directed towards Muslims, resist pressure for increased militarization, and show compassion by immediately expanding the number of refugees the United States will accept.” [11/17/15]

Detroit Free Press Editorial Board: “There is no quick fix for the pain and suffering we’re witnessing at the hands of terrorists around the globe. The danger, in fact, is that indulging the populist appetite for a splashy show of force could make things worse. We need to start down the hard road of sensibility, and follow it to a more peaceful end.” [11/16/15]

Houston Chronicle Editorial Board: “Treating the very people who are most harmed by terrorism as putative terrorists themselves is unworthy of a great state with a rich and venerable tradition of welcoming refugees…[Gov. Greg Abbott’s] response to a people in desperate need calls to mind an observation the late Bob Eckhardt, a Houston congressman, made about the Texas Capitol: Built for giants, inhabited by pygmies.” [11/16/15]

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times: “Helping Syrian refugees…[is] the right thing to do. Syrians, no less than those Jewish refugees [in 1939], no less than my father, are human beings needing help, not flotsam.” [11/19/15]

Los Angeles Times Editorial Board: “It defies what the nation stands for to deny a safe haven for the persecuted based on their faith, nation of origin, or our fear.” [11/17/15]

Dana Milbank, Washington Post: “This growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939. It’s perhaps the ugliest moment in a primary fight that has been sullied by bigotry from the start. It’s no exaggeration to call this un-American.” [11/16/15]

New York Times Editorial Board: “Confusing refugees with terrorists is morally unacceptable and, as a matter of strategy, misguided….Building new barriers to keep them out with the absurd argument that Muslims are inherently dangerous could provide propaganda benefits to the Islamic State.” [11/17/15]

New York Times Editorial Board: “The people who will be denied resettlement by this bill would be the victims of war, people who have been tortured and threatened by the same jihadists the United States now battles.” [11/18/15]

Ben Norton, Salon: “Those who promote militarist policies and anti-Muslim and anti-refugee bigotries in response to the Paris attacks are only going to further propagate violence and hatred. If the political cycle is not changed, the cycle of violence will continue.” [11/14/15]

Charles Pierce, Esquire: “47 Democratic politicians voted for terror. They voted for terror as a useful political emotion in their districts, and they surely voted for terror as a successful tactic abroad. There were 47 Democrats who voted for terror on Thursday.” [11/19/15]

Portland Press Herald Editorial Board: “Shutting out refugees puts us on the wrong side in this conflict. The refugees leaving Syria are running for their lives. By interfering with their escape, we would be helping the Islamic State.” [11/17/15]

Roger Simon, Politico: “There are at least 61 different symbols on the graves at Arlington that recognize numerous branches of Christianity, plus other religions including Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Native American religions, as well as atheists, secular humanists and Wiccans. So non-Christians are free to give their lives for America. We just don’t want any more of them here. Not even toddlers.” [11/18/15]

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board: “The desire to help is second nature to this nation, and communities have the willingness and capacity to lend a helping hand. When it returns after Thanksgiving, the Senate should block the legislation, which does not represent this nation’s values or improve its long-term national security.” [11/19/15]

Adam Taylor, Washington Post: “The Islamic State wants you to equate refugees with terrorists. In turn, it wants refugees to equate the West with prejudice against Muslims and foreigners.” [11/16/15]

Activists and Advocacy Organizations

Andrea Mercado and Miriam Yeung, Women for Common Sense Immigration Reform: “We urge the United States to act as a true global leader and offer protection to refugees from Syria and from around the world. This Committee should ensure that growing anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment do not guide policy decisions – this would be un-American, inhumane, and dishonorable.” [11/19/15]

Ammar Abdulhamid, Syrian author and activist: “Syria’s refugees are ordinary people who would have preferred to stay at home, or at least stay in any of the neighboring countries where the challenges of integration might have been less, shall we say, challenging. Instead, they ‘chose’ to embark on a long life-threatening exodus to foreign land in search of security and hope.” [11/24/15]

Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First: “This bill sends exactly the wrong message to the world, to U.S. allies in the Middle East and Europe, and to persecuted people fleeing violence and terror. The bill will bring the U.S. resettlement of Syrian refugees…to a grinding halt. This is not what U.S. global leadership looks like.” [11/19/15]

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “The United States must not give in to fear or hate motivated bias by turning our back on our nation’s fundamental commitment to refugee protection and human rights…Now is precisely the time to stand up for our democracy’s core values.” [11/17/15]

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “ADC strongly condemns and is deeply disappointed in the House vote following today’s refugee hearing…The House vote represents a vote for fear and xenophobia. It also discriminates against Syrians and Iraqis on the basis of their national origin.” [11/19/15]

American Civil Liberties Union: “It is wrong and un-American to condemn groups without reason solely based on their nationality, national origin, religion, or other protected grounds….H.R. 4038 would only apply to refugees deemed to be from Iraq or Syria…H.R. 4038, therefore, amounts to impermissible discrimination on the basis of nationality and national origin without a rational basis.” [11/18/15]

Asian Americans Advancing Justice: “We call upon [the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs] to use this opportunity to discuss how the United States can welcome more people fleeing harm and provide better support already in our communities.” [11/19/15]

Center for American Progress: “The United States should be taking in more Syrians, not fewer…It is at moments like this when we are challenged to be our best. Americans should not give in to fear. We should not jettison our values. And we should not abandon the world’s most vulnerable people at a time when they need America’s strength and protection the most.” [11/18/15]

Charles Chamberlain, Democracy for America: “I can’t stand the hateful, anti-refugee rhetoric we’re seeing across this country. It’s worse than sad and disappointing. It’s dangerous. And it’s a betrayal of our core American values to be driven by fear over freedom and bigotry over compassion.” [11/20/15]

CODEPINK: “Calls for increased US military intervention are misguided. Endless US military involvement in the Middle East has brought only destruction and sectarian division. The solutions will come from the people of the region – not the foreign militaries that created the chaos to begin with.” [11/16/15]

Mae Elise Cannon, author: “The allied bombing campaigns have had devastating effects on civilian populations, who are viewed as collateral damage, while only further motivating ISIS and terrorist recruitment.” [11/16/15]

David Cortright, Co-Chair, Win Without War: “Concerted international action can strengthen the fight against violent extremism and will avoid the harmful blowback effects that will almost certainly result from more military action.” [11/16/15]

Robert Creamer, Democracy Partners: “It is hard to say that you stand up for American values when you turn your back on the words that are engraved on the Statue of Liberty: Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…’” [11/17/15]

CREDO: “We urge [President Obama] to reject hate directed towards Muslims, resist pressure for increased militarization, and show compassion by immediately expanding the number of refugees the United States will accept.” [11/15/15]

Democracy for America: “The best response to terrorism is to double down on our country’s values, including welcoming refugees from Syria — and show that the words on the Statue of Liberty still have meaning.” [11/16/15]

Quyen Dinh, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center: “Refugees are people fleeing from violence and persecution – they are not responsible for the persecution themselves…Turning our backs on our humanitarian responsibility is not only un-American but morally unconscionable.” [11/19/15]

Quyen Dinh, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center: “I am devastated to see our lawmakers attack our legacy as a humane global nation in escalating destructive policies like H.R. 4038, which undermines our country’s values of dignity, safe haven, and opportunity for all.” [11/19/15]

Louis Elrod, Young Democrats of America: “There is no better way to fight terrorists than to provide refuge for their victims, especially those who are young, old or sick. Saving the life of someone is never the wrong thing to do.” [11/18/15]

Kristina Contreras Fox, Young Democrats of America: “‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free:’ not just pretty words. Compassion and love for our fellow human beings, we need to hold onto that always. That is what terrorism tries to destroy.” [11/18/15]

Anna Galland, MoveOn.org Civil Action: “MoveOn members will fight vigorously to uphold the principles of welcome and compassion that are engraved on the Statue of Liberty…We urge Congress, and in particular every Democrat, to show courage and compassion in keeping our doors open to refugees in need—and to opening them wider in this moment of crisis.” [11/18/15]

Danielle Glover, Young Democrats of America: “Accepting refugees is not only the humanitarian thing to do, it is the right thing to do for the national security interests of the U.S. That anyone would use this humanitarian crisis to score political points with their radical base by spreading fear and perpetuating false ideas about Syrian refugees is simply repugnant.” [11/18/15]

Jonathan Greenblatt, Anti-Defamation League: “This country must not give into fear or bias by turning its back on our nation’s fundamental commitment to refugee protection and human rights. Now is precisely the time to stand up for our core values, including that we are a proud nation of immigrants. To do otherwise signals to the terrorists that they are winning the battle against democracy and freedom.” [11/16/15]

Wade Henderson, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “There is a thorough screening process for refugees that provides ample protection against admitting terrorists or criminals. This demagoguery indicates an ignorance of the process and a cynical manipulation of this situation to reflect a larger political objective.” [11/19/15]

Marielena Hincapie, National Immigration Law Center: “The refugees of decades past have gone on to become an integral part of the fabric of our communities, and their contributions—both economic and societal—make us stronger….Those asserting that refugees are not welcome—either because of their country of origin or their faith—are acting out of small-minded panic and nativism.” [11/17/15]

Zaid Hydari, Refugee Solidarity Network: “The US should lead by example, encouraging other developing nations to increase their participation in humanitarian funding and resettlement, instead of participating in a race to the bottom…RSN urges members of Congress to abandon harmful and misleading discourse instead of abandoning refugees in need of protection.” [11/19/15]

InterAction: “Dating back to its founding, the United States has a long, proud history of welcoming persecuted people. Instead of turning away the victims of violence in Syria, now is the time for the United States to welcome Syrian refugees and provide them with a safe haven.” [11/18/15]

International Rescue Committee: “Our reaction should be to welcome – not turn away – the refugees who have been driven from their homes, fleeing the very people who perpetrated the attacks in Paris as well as Beirut. Welcome, not rejection, makes this nation safer.” [11/19/15]

J Street: “Nearly all of those seeking refuge are themselves victims of radical extremism and terror, and we urge that the US augment rather than limit assistance to them.” [11/20/15]

Lindsay Koshgarian, National Priorities Project: “If we are to break the spell that terrorism casts on our world, calmer heads must prevail…Americans do not need or want false security, and our government should not respond with empty, expensive, and potentially endless military campaigns that cost human lives and countless dollars – especially if they don’t make us any safer.” [11/17/15]

Constantina Meis, Young Democrats of America: “To turn our backs on these refugees now would be to ignore our core values as Americans and forget our rich history of being a country of immigrants.” [11/18/15]

MoveOn.org: “We should cooperate with all countries who are victims of ISIS terrorism to prevent ISIS terrorism in the future.” [11/15/15]

MoveOn.org: “Our most basic values are on the line. Do we still live up to the inscription on the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’? Will we live up to the Golden Rule, to do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Imagine fleeing for your life—wouldn’t you want to know that America could take you in?” [11/18/15]

NAFSA: Association of International Educators: “Closing our borders to Syrian refugees simply because they might share the same nationality or religion as some perpetrators of terror perpetuates fear and isolationism, while failing to recognize that the refugees are desperately fleeing violence themselves.” [11/19/15]

Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy: “Some Republican demagogues are taking advantage of the ISIS-Daesh attacks in Paris to try to scare Americans into thinking that admitting Syrian refugees to the U.S. would threaten our security…But the claim that the U.S. government lacks the ability to screen refugees for security concerns is just not true.” [11/16/15]

National Priorities Project: “We are a nation of immigrants and refugees. We do not need to close our doors to the world’s most desperate women, children and men.” [11/19/15]

National Security Network: “In the aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, U.S. legislators should reaffirm our country’s commitment to moral as well as global leadership by resisting calls to close the doors of this great nation to those who need the sanctuary it offers.” [11/18/15]

Kathleen Newland, Migration Policy Institute: “The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible…The record of the U.S. refugee resettlement program does not support the fear of security threats. This record is cause not for complacency but for confidence.” [October 2015]

Alex Nowrasteh, CATO Institute: “Halting America’s processing of refugees due to a terrorist attack in another country that may have had one asylum-seeker as a co-plotter would be an extremely expensive overreaction to very minor threat. Resettling refugees who pass a thorough security check would likely decrease the recruiting pool for future terrorists and decrease the long run risk.” [11/18/15]

Ray Offenheiser, Oxfam America: “Politicians who support a temporary freeze or pause are for political reasons fueling our worst instincts, demonstrating a willful ignorance of a secure process established by our nation’s intelligence and security experts, and also doing a terrible disservice to America’s long tradition as a nation that welcomes vulnerable people in their greatest hour of need.” [11/18/15]

Peace Action West: “We need members of Congress to reject fear-mongering and speak out in support of protecting refugees from Syria, Iraq and Yemen. We need hope and compassion to triumph over fear…Shutting our doors to those most in need of our help is not the answer.” [11/17/15]

Peace Action West: “The moral stakes are simple — the golden rule on a global scale. What would we want for our families if our communities were torn apart by unthinkable violence? The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming the persecuted. Now is no time to turn back on that tradition.” [11/18/15]

Progressive Change Campaign Committee: “Democrats have a chance to focus the nation on smart foreign policy and diplomacy abroad while…also take a stand against unconstitutional surveillance on Americans and make clear that our nation must also address the tragic plight of millions of refugees.” [11/15/15]

Nick Rathod, State Innovation Exchange: “I am glad that many other elected officials, including those legislators who we work with on a daily basis don’t accept this sort of fear-mongering and are conveying to the world, including our enemies, that we are not afraid, that we stand by our values and that we will always be a place of hope for the hopeless.” [11/23/15]

Refugee Council USA: “Closing the door to refugees would be disastrous for not only the refugees themselves, but their family members in the United States who are waiting for them to arrive, and our reputation in the world.” [11/17/15]

Avram Reisman, Just Foreign Policy: “We need to speak up. Welcoming refugees is our moral obligation. It’s also our obligation under international law.” [11/18/15]

RootsAction.org: “Humanity is indivisible. We reject any attempt by political leaders to exploit tragic events to promote more war.” [11/15/15]

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center: “SEARAC, along with more than 2.5 million Cambodian, Laotian and Vietnamese Americans living in the country, stand with our refugee brothers and sisters from Syria, and call on the Administration and Congress to carry on America’s legacy as a leading humanitarian leader by opening its doors to vulnerable communities.” [11/19/15]

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO: “We must not let the emotion and tragedy of recent events overshadow the fact that refugee resettlement saves lives and strengthens communities.” [11/18/15]

U.S Labor Against the War: “The vast majority of those who have been victims of terrorism are themselves Muslims. The perpetrators of these attacks are no more representative of Islam than members of the Ku Klux Klan are representative of Christianity. The U.S. has a moral duty to provide aid and sanctuary to refugees fleeing wars that are largely fought with arms that our country has poured into the Middle East.” [11/19/15]

United to End Genocide: “We can safely allow Syrian refugees into the United States. All refugees undergo lengthy and extensive background checks that are an effective deterrent for terrorists…if we shut our doors to Syrian refugees we will drive them back into the hands of the war they are fleeing.” [11/17/15]

United for Peace & Justice: “We have had ample opportunity to observe the personal tragedies which ensue when a horrific international crime is transformed into the occasion for war…We do not believe that accelerated air-strikes, increased weapons deliveries or expanded ‘boots on the ground’ are a practical or moral answer to the danger of international terrorist plots.” [11/16/15]

Win Without War: “Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted group of people who come to the US. We should be applying the Golden Rule to our actions by joining in efforts to rescue those who have been victimized by ruthless terrorists, not driving them away.” [11/17/15]

Win Without War: “Our nation was founded and built by families who were also fleeing from persecution and toward hope. It is distressing to see politicians shutting the door of America on those fleeing the violence in Syria so that they can score political points.” [11/19/15]

Women’s Action for New Directions: “Now is a time to connect with every person around the globe who seeks peace and feels great sorrow…We resolve in the wake of these tragedies to recognize the deep need for us to connect in community with one another. We must affirm and uphold the imperative to work together to build peace.” [11/16/15]

Religious Organizations and Activists

400 religious leaders: “Refugees are an asset to this country. They are powerful ambassadors of the American Dream and our nation’s founding principles of equal opportunity, religious freedom, and liberty and justice for all…We pray that in your discernment, compassion for the plight of refugees will touch your hearts.” [11/20/15]

American Friends Service Committee: “We oppose all violence, regardless of source or target, and know from our work that to end violence we must address its root causes. Responding with more violence will not earn back what was lost by violence.” [11/18/15]

Galen Carey, National Association of Evangelicals: “We call on our leaders in Congress and in the states to withdraw harmful rhetoric that would call into question the U.S. commitment to resettlement. We should expand, not restrict resettlement.” [11/18/15]

Church World Service: “History will judge us all in this moment, when we had the opportunity to stand in solidarity with the victims of ISIS and work together to defeat hate, or to instead turn our backs on them in cruel irony. We call on our elected officials to stand with the millions of Americans across the country who are donating to help refugees abroad and volunteering to welcome refugees in their communities.” [11/19/15]

Rev. Richard Cizik, New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good: “We know from history that those who suffer and those who rescue the suffering are forever changed for the better, just as our nation has been changed in the past and must do again for these Syrian refugees.” [11/18/15]

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach: “We urge our political leaders and fellow citizens in all nations to open their hearts and borders to the millions of Syrian refugees who have fled their homes in search of safety and asylum. The refugees are not our enemy; they are our sisters and brothers, families with children, people like us who seek safety and shelter in a time of crisis.” [11/19/15]

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, US Conference of Catholic Bishops: “[Syrian] refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.” [11/17/15]

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, US Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We must work with the world community to provide safe haven to vulnerable refugees who are simply attempting to survive. H.R. 4038 abdicates our moral responsibility in this area and must be defeated.” [11/19/15]

Franciscan Action Network: “Welcome the stranger, especially families who are fleeing violence in their home countries. We have special concern for Syrian refugees…we call on our government to admit 100,000 Syrian refugees…and we urge members of Congress to heed the message of Pope Francis when he visited our country, to put a human face on the number of refugees.” [11/19/15]

Rachel Gore Freed, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee: “We are horrified at the mere idea that our lawmakers would further jeopardize the lives of innocent refugee families now in camps or flowing across Europe.” [11/20/15]

Friends Committee on National Legislation: “We now hear calls from members of Congress, from governors and candidates to shut the door to Syrian refugees or to open the doors only to Christians. This blanket response counters what our nation stands for and turns away those who most need our help—those who are seeking refuge from violent conflict.” [11/17/15]

Gainesville, Florida Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice: “We ask [Congress] no to turn [its] backs on Gainesville, Florida, whose citizens of many faiths and none are united in welcoming strangers who are victims of war and in rejecting every form of religious bigotry.” [11/19/15]

Christopher Hale, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good: “The U.S. should be a nation for people of all faiths and people of no faith. Why? Because Jesus tells us everyone is our neighbor—particularly those who are different than us. As we turn towards the winter months, surely Ted Cruz, the son of a pastor, can take Jesus’s message to heart and make room at the inn for people of every faith. That would be the Christian thing to do.” [11/18/15]

Mark Hetfield, HIAS: “Refugees do not bring terror, they flee terror…we must take care to protect refugees and asylum seekers, not scapegoat them.” [11/16/15]

Nancy Kaufman, National Council of Jewish Women: “It is a disgrace to stand idly by as innocent refugees flee violence and persecution. As Jews we are taught va’ahavtem et ha-ger – as we were once strangers, so must we love the stranger. Our nation must find the moral courage to welcome those seeking refuge from fear, persecution, and hate.” [11/19/15]

Leadership Conference on Women Religions: “We need not choose between the gospel call to welcome the stranger and our legitimate need for security. The protection that we rightly promise the world’s refugees must not be denied to Syrians fleeing for their lives.” [11/19/15]

Sister Marie Lucey, Franciscan Action Network: “It is appalling that some political leaders in our country would call for the end of refugee resettlement based on religion or country of origin. This is not who we are as Americans.” [11/18/15]

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: “The protection that the United States offers to a very small percentage of the world’s refugees must not be foreclosed for Syrians who themselves are fleeing the terror of ISIS…To close the door on resettling Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families fleeing for their very lives.” [11/18/15]

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: “[H.R. 4038] would have the United States turn its back on hope and life for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters from the Syria and Iraq region. Our country has a long history of providing refuge and our commitment to welcoming refugees and the security of the American people are not mutually exclusive.” [11/19/15]

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service: “In response to past global crises, the US has led the effort to resettle hundreds of thousands of refugees – a tiny fraction of those who are displaced – and America has always been better and stronger as a result…our nation has the capacity to take a bold stance in welcoming far more of these vulnerable refugees into the United States.” [11/19/15]

Rev. Wes Magruder, United Methodist Church: “The Syrian refugees ─ they’re running for their lives…It’s ludicrous to suggest that we don’t already have, in our refugee settlement system, adequate vetting and security.” [11/17/15]

Rev. John L. McCullough, Church World Service: “I have heard some conflate these senseless acts of violence with Syrian refugees. This is wrong in no uncertain terms. Make no mistake: Syrian refugees are fleeing violence perpetrated by ISIS — violence that has destroyed their country. To blame vulnerable people for the acts of their perpetrators is unjust and inhumane.” [11/16/15]

Rev. John L. McCullough, Church World Service: “These governors have turned their backs on Syrian refugees who, like the Parisians with whom the world is mourning, are the victims of ISIS…To blame Syrian refugees, who are themselves fleeing the horrors of ISIS, for the acts of their perpetrators, is just plain wrong.” [11/16/15]

Rev. John L. McCullough, Church World Service: “We need to make sure that we do not perpetuate the sense of terror that people are already feeling. We must take a moral stand and do what is right…As a resident of one of the states where the governor has indicated that Syrian refugees would not be welcomed, that is not reflective of my values and my expectations, and certainly not my support.” [11/18/15]

Rev. John L. McCullough, Church World Service: “Members of the House of Representatives betrayed our nation’s heritage as a country that has welcomed the oppressed…[H.R. 4038] fans the flames of bigotry and fear. Our faith calls us to welcome our refugee brothers and sisters, not to create barriers that prevent them from seeking safety.” [11/19/15]

Rabbi Jack Moline, Interfaith Alliance: “If the legacy of this country is to give to bigotry no sanction… what does it mean when our fellow human beings who are fleeing for their lives ask for safety? It means no religious test.” [11/18/15]

Bishop Gary Mueller, United Methodist Church: “It solves nothing to categorically exclude a group of people whose lives have been torn apart, as [Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas] has indicated he would like to do concerning Syrian refugees.” [11/17/15]

Muslim Grassroots Movement: “We stand against the collective punishment of refugees. These individuals are escaping the very same terrorism that the world has witnessed in Paris and Beirut…The United States must be steadfast in its commitment to remain a sanctuary for refugees fleeing political and religious persecution—from all across the world.” [11/23/15]

National Council of Jewish Women: “We must open our arms to the men, women, and children who seek sanctuary in the United States, and we must speak out against the bigotry and anti-Muslim vitriol echoing in the chambers of the federal and state governments.” [11/17/15]

Catherine Orsborn, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign: “Recognize the human dignity of Syrians reaching out for global support in this time of great need. We call on our elected officials to…reach into the wells of our own national values to find the courage and compassion to extend a welcoming hand to those seeking refuge.” [11/19/15]

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: “As Jewish tradition teaches, ‘and each shall sit under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid’ (Micah 4:4). We can ensure our security and fulfill our highest aspirations as a nation rooted in compassion and commitment to religious liberty. We call on members of Congress to oppose any effort to limit the acceptance of Syrian refugees.” [11/17/15]

Presbyterian Church: “Do we choose to abandon our plan to protect these Syrians because the people who have been threatening them are now threatening the West as well? ISIS has taken lives; they have taken our sense of security. Do we now hand over our hope and compassion to them?” [11/17/15]

Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: “A nation built by refugees from political and religious persecution cannot turn its back on refugees seeking escape from the same.” [11/19/15]

Imam Talib Shareef, Masjid Muhammad: “Sadly, due to the actions of a few, it has been associated in the media with the violence seen from extremist groups that have no foundation or place in Islam. Refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are fleeing the same violence we saw in the Paris attacks from those extreme groups.” [11/18/15]

Sisters of the Good Shepherd: “We urge [members of Congress] to avoid knee-jerk reactions that politicize the events in Paris, to reject misplaced blame that creates an atmosphere of fear, and to stand in solidarity with Syrian refugees, who are themselves the victims of ISIS.” [11/17/15]

Father Tom Smolich, Jesuit Refugee Service: “The idea of only taking Christian refugees is contrary to what we stand for as an immigrant nation. It says we’re afraid. Fear is never a place to make decisions. It’s contrary to where God is calling us. And frankly—it’s bad policy.” [11/18/15]

Jen Smyers, Groundswell petition: “As people of faith, we are outraged by the growing number of American politicians responding to attacks by terrorist groups by opposing the resettlement in the United States of desperate refugees escaping violent conflicts. These men, women, and children are fleeing terror; they do not bring terror with them.” [11/20/15]

T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights: “We have a moral obligation to uphold the dignity and the safety of those in desperate circumstances. To that end, we strongly support…legislation that would bring Syrian refugees to the United States and ensure their safety once here.” [11/19/15]

Dr. Steve Timmermans, Christian Reformed Church: “Refugees…should not be scapegoated for these extreme acts of violence. As Christians, we must speak clearly and loudly: we are called to welcome the stranger, protect the vulnerable, and love fearlessly. We are called to respond with love even amidst our fear.” [11/19/15]

Rev. Dr. Earl Trent, Church World Service: “Future generations will look back with either a great sense of pride, or they will hang their heads in shame…Our elected leaders must cease inflammatory words that appeal to the basest of fears. I pray they have the moral courage to champion facts over fears.” [11/18/15]

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee: “The United States should increase its humanitarian assistance to UNHCR and bilateral aid to do our part to meet this great [refugee] challenge. Our best chance for preventing future devastating acts of terror is to act decisively and to work with the international community and within the collective framework of international law to address the critical human rights violations.” [11/19/15]

United Church of Christ and Disciples: “We celebrate the human community. We recognize evil in the world, but the answer is not to shut out whole populations collectively; we know that each and every one of us could be excluded based on some aspect of identity…The US should continue offering welcome to the world’s most vulnerable peoples, including refugees from Syria.” [11/17/15]

United Methodist Church: “As followers of the refugee Christ, we must welcome all sojourners recognizing that security measures are in place and have been effective.” [11/18/15]

United Methodist Church: “Protecting and upholding human dignity and freedom for those fleeing terror, persecution, and economic deprivation, is not only the common responsibility of everyone including state and religious bodies, it is our highest calling.” [11/19/15]

Jim Wallis, Sojourners: “Compassion for the suffering of those different from us is at the heart of biblical faith, and welcoming “the stranger” goes right to the instructions of Jesus. Concerns about safety and vetting are reasonable and should be implemented. But to deny compassion to refugees is to distort our religion in response to the religious distortion of Islamic extremists. We must not allow their bad religion to make ours bad too. What a tragedy that would be.”

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center: “Any decision to use force against ISIS should in both words and practice define the action as policing criminals within a context of protecting the Syrian and Iraqi publics, not fighting a war against Islam.” [11/15/15]

World Relief: “We urge local communities to continue to welcome all refugees. For over 30 years, the United States has resettled thousands of refugees who have become vibrant, integrated members of our community…The U.S. refugee resettlement system continues to be a lifeline to desperate individuals fleeing violence and conflict from all over the world.” [11/18/15]

Academics and Think Tanks

Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies: “You can’t bomb terrorism—you can only bomb people. You can bomb cities. Sometimes you might kill a terrorist—but that doesn’t end terrorism; it only encourages more of it.” [11/14/15]

Juan Cole, University of Michigan: “Half of US governors have announced their opposition to their states taking in Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks…here are the reasons for which these announcements are a form of political hysteria and not grounded in any rational policy considerations. [11/17/15]

Harleen Gambhir, Institute for the Study of War: “Backlashes against Muslims who have no part in the Islamic State’s ideologies or actions make the situation much worse. Europe must avoid the trap that the Islamic State is setting.” [11/15/15]

Jane Harman, Woodrow Wilson International Center: “When politicians call for the United States to admit only Christian refugees—a proposal as dumb as it is unconstitutional—they reinforce the radical Islamists’ argument that the West will never truly accept Muslims.” [11/20/15]

Danielle Pletka, American Enterprise Institute: “[Syrians] are running from horrors like what we saw in Paris…It is not insane for people to go elsewhere in search of a better life. This country was founded by such people, and we do not question why they did not simply go to some nearer refuge.” [11/16/15]

Steve Vladeck, American University Washington College of Law: “I wanted to…[make] far more mundane legal observations: (1) that the contemplated state bans on the admission of refugees violate the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) that federal law gives the President unquestioned power to admit refugees during an ‘unforeseen emergency refugee situation’…Governors [who are “banning” refugees] are not only shamelessly trying to capitalize upon the fear produced by Friday’s attacks, but they’re doing so without even a little bit of a legal leg to stand on.” [11/17/15]

Stephen Walt, Harvard University: “If the United States, France, and its allies launch yet another hastily planned crusade into the Middle East, the Islamic State’s broader message will appear to be vindicated and more people will see these terrorists as heroic martyrs standing up to the eternally hostile forces of the West.” [11/16/15]

Benjamin Wittes, Brookings Institution: “To suddenly say that the risk of ISIS infiltrating this particular refugee flow makes it categorically different from all others is really a backhanded way of saying that we should make a different set of security presumptions about Arabs, even those we know to be victims of the worst forms of oppression by our own military enemies. The sentiment is not just ugly. It may also be profoundly self-defeating in security terms.” [11/17/15]

International Organizations and World Leaders

Rupert Colville, United Nations: “If this attack is allowed to feed discrimination and prejudice it will be playing straight into the hands of ISIL. Are we going to play their game for them? Demonizing already marginalized communities is clearly a stupid way to go.” [11/17/15]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres: “It is not the refugee outflows that cause terrorism, it is terrorism, tyranny and war that create refugees…It is clear that the Daesh strategy is not only to set Europeans against refugees, but within Europe, to set citizen against citizen within communities, community against community within countries, and country against country.” [11/17/15]

French President Francois Hollande: “France should remain as it is. Our duty is to carry on our lives…30,000 refugees will be welcomed over the next two years. Our country has the duty to respect this commitment.” [11/18/15]

Shelly Pitterman, UN High Commission for Refugees: “Syrian and Iraqi refugees are the victims of terrorism, fleeing the same type of atrocities that we’ve recently witnessed. They’ve rejected the ideology of extremism and share the values of freedom and tolerance.” [11/18/15]

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees: “Many [refugees] are fleeing extremism and terrorism – from the very people associated with the Paris attacks. A world that welcomes Syrians can help defeat extremism. But a world that rejects Syrians, and especially Muslim refugees, will just feed into their propaganda.” [11/17/15]

 

Compiled by Chris Marks and Angela Miller.

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