|Map courtesy of Vox.vom|
Governor Susana Martinez
Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail, Room 400
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Several states, including our neighboring state of Texas, have had their governors announce that they would do whatever is in their power to prevent the acceptance of refugees from Syria and other parts of the middle east that are ablaze with violence from nation states as well as terrorist organizations. I am writing proactively to encourage you, if it is within my powers of persuasion to do so, not to join these efforts, as they are reactionary and xenophobic, and would reflect poorly on New Mexico.
These governors are misinforming the public by suggesting that the refugee process endangers American security. This is simply not the case.
To be accepted as a refugee by the United States, applicants must complete a multi-stage vetting process by the United States that follows refugee designation by the United Nations. We have accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees from the middle east (and millions worldwide) over my lifetime. Not one of them has engaged in terrorism. It's hard to impeach that record, and it is a testament to the capabilities of conventional law enforcement and the screening processes we have in place.
Besides this, it is not reasonable to assume that refugees fleeing ISIS have common cause with ISIS. These people are fleeing ISIS, as well as the Assad regime that holds state power there. These people are targets of ISIS, not its collaborators.
The governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Texas (so far), are appealing to a cowardly and xenophobic impulse following the attacks in Beirut and Paris (and the bombing of a Russian passenger plane), but we have a moral obligation to the victims of regional instability (to which the United States has contributed with its own policies). The United States has made a rather modest commitment to absorbing refugees from this region. It is an embarrassment that these governors have made a bid to resist that obligation. I hope you will have the moral courage to reject a similar course. Let us not see New Mexico join this ignominy.