Thursday, November 19, 2015

Can individual sponsors overrule state bans on refugees with their own money? A provocative moral question

Today Indiana governor Mike Pence (R) created controversy by supporting Indiana’s suspension of a Syrian refugee’s family that had been vetted thoroughly three years ago.  CNN has a detailed story here.  The family was able to find supported housing in Connecticut. Today, Chris Cuomo (himself an attorney, and son of former New York Democratic governor) grilled Pence on why this family had to be punished for what terrorists did in France?  How would you feel if that was done to you, was the thrust of Cuomo’s questions.

USA Today has a story today about Syrian refugees in Florida, living under a new kind of fear, link here. Again, they were thoroughly vetted months to years ago.

One question comes to mind: what if a family in Indiana had “stepped up” and offered free housing and support to the Syrian family?  Could the family have stayed in Indiana?  Should this kind of sacrifice and risk be expected of individual Americans?  That idea, “radical hospitality”, has been the subject of some sermons at some area churches in recent years, including Trinity Presbyterian in Arlington. The implication of the question is that one person for family could be pressured to step in and save another whatever government policy.

No question, a major resettlement program would require working with NGO’s and faith-based organizations (like Catholic Charities) who would then need to be able to find volunteers and sponsors, which would not be easy in today’s world.  We will need a lot more facts about how effective the background investigations are, and more answers as to whether more resettlement could not happen in secure zones in the Middle East (with more support from richer countries like UAE and Saudi Arabia).  So this call for “radical hospitality” on a personal level may not happen soon.
Ben Carson created controversy today with his “rabid dogs” metaphor. Donald Trump “commented” on the Syrians showing up in Central America.  Trump even proposed an unconstitutional “Muslim database”.

The GOP-controlled House passed a bill requiring a high government official to personally vouch for every refugee, in a bill that echoes the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky over same-sex marriages.
LGBT refugees from Russia (and Nigeria and other countries) could still provide troubling questions about support.

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