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Kasich opposes accepting Syrian refugees

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to reporters following the second of two GOP Presidential debates at the Milwaukee Theatre on Nov. 10. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Ohio Governor John Kasich speaks to reporters following the second of two GOP Presidential debates at the Milwaukee Theatre on Nov. 10. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined the governors of 31 other states in publicly opposing the resettlement of Syrian refugees because of security concerns.

The opinion is a change from his previous stance — Kasich had originally backed the White House’s plan to allow up to 10,000 refugees from the war-stricken country to seek shelter in the U.S., if they were thoroughly vetted.

In an open letter to President Barack Obama, the governor, who is also running as a Republican candidate for president, said that while he sympathizes with the plight of the Syrians, current deficiencies in the U.S. refugee program keep him from wanting to allow refugees into the Buckeye state.

“As governor, it is my duty to ensure the safety and security of the citizens of my state,” Kasich wrote. “Until the rigor and depth of background checks are improved and the results are more transparently shared with the states, I urge the federal government not to accept more Syrian refugees.”

However, Kasich’s new stance doesn’t have the support of all Ohioans, including university professor Pranav Jani. Jani, who is a member of the Mershon Center for International Security Studies, said he found Kasich’s comments to be heartless and demonizing toward people who are fleeing the same oppression and terror that Americans are against.

“If we believe in democracy, we have to take a stand: refugees are welcome here,” Jani said in an email.

Kenan Alzouhayli, a third-year in biochemistry and president of the Syrian Student Union, said security checks are important to ensure that people who do harm are not allowed into the country. He said he thinks Kasich’s concerns come from a desire for more security. He said leaving the refugees where they are now is also dangerous, as it exposes them to terrorism and extremism.

“Preventing the threat of the cancer now is easier than what may come later,” he said concerning extremism. “Most of the Syrian refugees are highly educated and have big dreams in their home country. They are doctors, engineers and lawyers who want to be productive here.”

Kasich describes the lack of proper oversight as a growing concern for the past several months, and said the current vetting process is not robust enough to identify those who want to do harm. He elaborated on his position on refugees at a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. A U.S. no-fly zone over Syria in coordination with Jordan and Turkey would allow refugees to stay in the region instead of having to flee to Europe, Kasich said.

“We just need to have a system that lets us know who these people are,” Kasich said.

Jani, who also serves as the faculty advisor for the Syrian Student Union, said that Kasich’s concerns are not valid and that while a single refugee could potentially pose a threat, investigation of an individual’s actions and not blanketing an entire community is a more effective way to stop criminal activity. He added that refugees that come to the United States are thoroughly vetted by the FBI and only 10,000 Syrians, a fraction of those affected, would be able to come under the current plan.

Kasich left the door open for a potential better vetting process, but followed it up with the fact that the current system is not adequate. He added that there are no legal bounds for a state to prevent refugee resettlement. Such action is prohibited under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Instead, states could only express concern to the federal government about the program. Jani echoed this and said Kasich’s motivations are likely political. He said many of the governors who have announced their opposition are trying to appeal to racist and anti-immigrant sentiment that has been championed by candidates like Donald Trump.

Comments like Kasich’s expose anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States that have been present since 9/11, Jani said. He added that immigrants and minorities are used as scapegoats by some for America’s problems.

According to studies last summer, white supremacists since 9/11 have accounted for more than double the civilian deaths on U.S. soil than jihadists,” Jani said. “Why is it that no policies are emerging for painting all whites as potential supremacists or fundamentalists?”

The issue of refugees in the United States is not a new one, Jani said. He cited Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, as well as Cubans and Haitians in the United States. He added that refugees add to American society, a sentiment he shared with Alzouhayli.

Refugees and immigrants have built this country,” he said. “Somali, Jewish, Mexican, Burmese, Irish, Tibetan, Japanese, Palestinian and, yes, Syrian refugees and immigrants — whether fleeing political and social repression or fleeing the economic gun of poverty — have given their blood, sweat, and tears to this country.  No one brush can be used to paint any group.”

8 comments

  1. Republicans oppose children and families escaping death and persecution but defend the right of selling guns with little or no background check to the very possible domestic and foreighn terrorists who are in the our country. The Republican Party is now an official cult. Their votes in in congress for war and economic destruction have done more harm to our country then any terrorists could do.

  2. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev came into this country as children refugees. Stop being so simple minded.

    Economic destruction? I suppose the Democratic way of giving everyone any and all entitlements that can be thought of is good for the economy. Especially with no way of paying for it. Yeah almost $19 trillion dollars in debt is great for the economy and future of the country.

    Let’s keep running up the national debt and let potential future terrorists into the country meanwhile sit back and do nothing as an American was killed in Paris and ISIS grows and becomes stronger each day.

    • First of all, don’t begin a persuasive argument with “Stop being so simple minded.” Your insulting vitriol to fellow Buckeyes is unnecessary in any civilized discussion. Secondly, you invoked the debt as if it’s not a figure most people use unwittingly to the fact that it’s a politically manipulable statistic. It is partially reflective of poor decision making by congressional leaders, but that’s just a small piece of the puzzle. Your lack of specificity reeks of an argument parroted back from one of Rupert Murdoch’s reputable “news” outlets. Your analysis reads like a Fox News talking point. And while you are likely a wonderful member of your community, your points offer no solution and plenty of misinformation. The Boston Bombers were NOT refugees. I’ll let an immigration policy expert take it from here: “Detractors of refugee resettlement, however, point to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — the Boston Bombers — as evidence to the contrary. The pair of brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013 were not, however, refugees. They were, on the contrary, children of an asylee, according to the State Department, and the distinction is crucial.
      Asylees and refugees share one thing in common: a fear of persecution in the their country of origin. But they differ in important ways. Most importantly, an asylee is self-selected–he arrives in the country from which he’s seeking status and applies for asylum. Under international law, people with a well-founded fear of persecution cannot be returned to their country of origin.
      By contrast, refugees undergo a much different process. First, they must receive designation as a refugee by U.N. officials, most often in refugee camps. The United States selects only the most vulnerable cases for resettlement, such as those with almost no hope of ever returning to their home country or those who have been tortured.

      This selection process and the subsequent vetting undertaken to verify the applicant’s biography takes a long time — up to 3 years — and is normally exhaustingly thorough. Refugee officers at the Department of Homeland Security travel throughout the region in order to verify claims of persecution and facts about the victims’ biography.
      If the person claims to have been in a certain place at a certain time, DHS checks. If they claim their house was bombed, DHS confirms that bombs were dropped there (it often uses satellite and drone surveillance for this). The Paris bomber with his fake Syrian passport would have had a very hard time navigating that process.”

      Educate yourself before taking a hardline stance. Refugees are great for Ohio because they’re more carefully screened than any non-refugee and will supplant the waning population of our state. They’ve shown marked economic contributions to communities, and they bring diversity, something I’m sure you value. Not one has committed an act of terror in America. This has literally nothing to do with the National Debt and everything to do with stepping outside of the bipartisan mold. Your initial imperative seems ironic now.

      • Wow. You are a fairly decent writer gifted with time to spend googling information. Unfortunately your perception of reality and analysis of data leaves much to be desired. You are, in a word, an idiot. You state “Your lack of specificity reeks of an argument parroted back from one of Rupert Murdoch’s reputable “news” outlets. Your analysis reads like a Fox News talking point.” And then you follow up with information from ——. You remind me of a fellow i know that virtually always spouts off with the same phrase every time i provide facts and statistics “Where’d you hear that, FOX?”, like the freaking parrot that you ironically refer to.
        Hey ETB, did you know that one estimate of the number of Syrian refugees that are young muslim men is 77%? Oh, wait, that is a quote from Ted Cruz, whose statements are frequently found on Rupert Murdoch outlets, but why you (or actually someone more astute might) ask? Because your sources won’t carry news unfavorable to democrats and progressives.
        The selection process Obama intends for the Syrian refugees will not entail an exhaustive vetting system as would normally occur, and there are few if any written records available for the refugees even if the DHS personnel did intend to conduct such a search in this case. Oh, and by the way oh smarmy one, i do value diversity, but have no use for your sort of naivete.

      • Wow. You are a fairly decent writer gifted with time to spend googling information. Unfortunately your perception of reality and analysis of data leaves much to be desired. You are, in a word, an idiot. You state “Your lack of specificity reeks of an argument parroted back from one of Rupert Murdoch’s reputable “news” outlets. Your analysis reads like a Fox News talking point.” And then you follow up with information from the sources you prefer. You remind me of a fellow i know that virtually always spouts off with the same phrase every time i provide facts and statistics “Where’d you hear that, FOX?”, like the freaking parrot that you ironically refer to.
        Hey ETB, did you know that one estimate of the number of Syrian refugees that are young muslim men is 77%? Oh, wait, that is a quote from Ted Cruz, whose statements are frequently found on Rupert Murdoch outlets, but why you (or actually someone more astute might) ask? Because your sources won’t carry news unfavorable to democrats and progressives.
        The selection process Obama intends for the Syrian refugees will not entail an exhaustive vetting system as would normally occur, and there are few if any written records available for the refugees even if the DHS personnel did intend to conduct such a search in this case. Oh, and by the way oh smarmy one, i do value diversity, but have no use for your sort of naivete. Perhaps you’d be better off sharing your viewpoints with the 13% of the Syrian refugees that admit a predilection for ISIS?

      • Wow. You are a fairly decent writer gifted with time to spend googling information. Unfortunately your perception of reality and analysis of data leaves much to be desired. You are, in a word, an idiot (i’m sorry, is that too “hardline” a statement for you?). You state “Your lack of specificity reeks of an argument parroted back from one of Rupert Murdoch’s reputable “news” outlets. Your analysis reads like a Fox News talking point.” And then you follow up with information from the sources you prefer. You remind me of a fellow i know that virtually always spouts off with the same phrase every time i provide facts and statistics “Where’d you hear that, FOX?”, like the freaking parrot that you ironically refer to.
        Hey ETB, did you know that one estimate of the number of Syrian refugees that are young muslim men is 77%? Oh, wait, that is a quote from Ted Cruz, whose statements are frequently found on Rupert Murdoch outlets, but why you (or actually someone more astute might) ask? Because your sources won’t carry news unfavorable to democrats and progressives.
        The selection process Obama intends for the Syrian refugees will not entail an exhaustive vetting system as would normally occur, and there are few if any written records available for the refugees even if the DHS personnel did intend to conduct such a search in this case. Oh, and by the way oh smarmy one, i do value diversity, but have no use for your sort of naivete. Perhaps you’d be better off sharing your viewpoints with the 13% of the Syrian refugees that admit a predilection for ISIS?

      • I love the thought process that Fox News is slanted and favors republicans, however they are the only ones who have an agenda. No other news outlet could possibly slanted any other way. Liberals seemingly only get their news from credible unbiased sources. Keep your liberal head in the sand.

        You should also try some reading comprehension. I was in no way speaking about refugees and the national debt as being in anyway related. The original comment was insinuating that republicans are responsible for the destruction of the economy. I was responding to that lunacy. I understand that clearly comprehending my response wouldn’t help your argument so I get it.

        BTW his comment was extremely broad and simple minded, I stand by that. You can keep your advice for making an argument to yourself though. Especially after your pretentious arrogant response. You showed your true colors.

  3. EtTuBrute, nice talking points, but will you be willing to spend some time along Morse Road in our little Somali?

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