Refugees Should Be Welcomed in Maryland

Gov. Larry Hogan has fallen in line with other GOP governors in seeking to keep Syrian refugees out of our state. He is not speaking for the majority of Marylanders, who recognize need when they see it. Justin Vest makes the case for a reversal of the Governor's bad decision.

/By Justin Vest/ Last week, Gov. Larry Hogan joined what is now 31 governors–mostly Republicans–who oppose resettling refugees in their states, citing safety concerns following the attacks in Paris. This anti-humanitarian fearmongering is spreading xenophobia nationwide with severe consequences.

 The United States is hardly the primary destination for refugees. Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the U.S. has accepted 2,500 refugees and Pres. Obama is only seeking to accept an additional 10,000 this year. Of these thousands of refugees, Maryland has accepted 31. By comparison, France–just days after the terrorist attacks–announced it would accept an additional 30,000 refugees over the next two years.

 Not only does Hogan’s position give in to the rampant xenophobia spreading across the country, it has dangerous implications for many marginalized people in Maryland and beyond. Since the Paris attacks, there has been a sharp uptick in anti-Muslim violence including threats on social media, vandalized mosques, and assaults of Muslim individuals.

 Maryland is home to many immigrant populations from around the world accounting for 14% of the state’s population. This rhetoric only serves to further marginalize these people, many of whom already face disproportionate levels of discrimination. Maryland’s overall population is approximately 46 percent people of color and is expected to become a majority minority state in the next five years. These are simple demographic facts that have little to do with immigration, but the rhetoric coming from Hogan and many of his fellow Republicans only serves to create more racial tension and division, not less.

 Finally, let’s acknowledge the rigorous hurdles refugees coming to America face. They have already gone through an extensive vetting process and there is no evidence that any refugees coming to the U.S. are in any way linked to terrorists. They have all given up their livelihoods to flee the effects of terrorism and share Americans’ interest in ending its reign over their lives. Governor Hogan and other conservatives say they are concerned about Americans’ safety following the Paris attacks, but the evidence doesn’t back up their purported concern.

 Gov. Hogan, end this political charade. The human dignity of all people is at stake. Lend your voice to reason and compassion rather than hatred and bigotry.