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Gutiérrez: Refusing Syrian Refugees ‘Despicable and Cowardly’

Tuesday on the House floor, Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) said turning away refugees fleeing violence in Syria is “despicable and cowardly and precisely the kind of reaction ISIS wanted.”

Gutierrez said, “Candidates for president of the United States. politicians and pundits will be tempted to say whatever they can to get the news cameras pointed at them. The governor of Illinois, my home state, could not resist saying our state was closed to Syrians fleeing the terror of ISIS and the regime. The governor of Louisiana, a son of immigrants, said no to refugees. The governors of other states did so too. A senator whose parents came as refugees from Cuba fleeing there has said no, too. This is despicable and cowardly and precisely the kind of reaction ISIS wanted. ISIS could not have written a better script. The free people of the world are turning their backs on people seeking safety and freedom. When we send Jews back to Germany and when we send Japanese to internment camps, we regretted it and we’ll regret this as well. We have had candidates actually say that refugees seeking safety in the strongest nation in the world must first pass a test to prove they are from an acceptable religion in the United States of America. They said this, in the 21st century. An acceptable religion in America.”

He continued, “Now, of course, the governors of Illinois, Texas, and Louisiana and most of the other states that are scared of ISIS are Republican. And because it is a federal matter, they are overstepping their powers with executive orders because they cannot actually stop refugees from resettling in their states, and they know it. How sad. instead, they have instructed state agency not to assist people fleeing terror. We are a better country than that. No matter how scared Republican leaders become, we must not abandon our commitment to being a nation without equal in the world. A nation that does not fear or shy away from any challenge. It is our commitment to religious equality and to freedom to worship as we please that has made us a great nation. And this is no time to abandon that tradition, our bravery, the bravery of our military, the bravery of our commitment to freedom and equality has shown for almost 250 years. What American exceptionalism is truly all about. It is not the time to lose sight of ourselves and say America is too weak, America cannot handle 20,000 or 200,000 refugees fleeing for their lives. It is not the time for America to consider raising the white flag and say to those waiving the black flag, yes, ISIS, you are right we dislike and fear Muslims.”

He said the Republicans, “Will raise suspicions  and instill fear of Muslims, maybe even fear of a president they’ve been saying is a Muslim and it will probably be pretty sad display. Let us as legislators and leaders and patriots rise above petty politics. Rise above sectarian fears. Rise above the underlying layer of xenophobia that often surfaces in this country in moments like this throughout our history. And let us maintain America’s commitment to being a beacon of hope for those fleeing oppression and violence and intolerance.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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