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Combating anti-refugee hysteria in the wake of the Paris terror attacks

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of 130 people, questions and concerns about immigration have been raised throughout Europe and in the United States. Specifically, concerns about admitting Syrian refugees have come to light after the passport of an alleged Syrian refugee who traveled to Paris via Greece was discovered near the body of one of the terrorists linked to the attack. Officials believe that the passport is fake and was likely planted to incite anti-Syrian and Muslim sentiments throughout the west, a goal which appears to have been achieved.

In the U.S., concerns about possible would-be terrorists posing as Syrian refugees resulted in several politicians speaking out against accepting Syrian asylum seekers. The anti-refugee hysteria even prompted members of the House of Representatives to pass legislation known as the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act which would make it much more difficult for refugees, specifically from the Middle East, to come to the U.S.

There's no doubt that the tragic events that recently unfolded in Paris have caused many countries to fear for the safety of their citizens. It would, however, be another great blow to our democratic ideals and very way of life if we allow these types of terrible acts to incite even more fear, paranoia and hatred.

In the wake of the anti-refugee backlash, a total of 31 U.S. governors publicly announced that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in their states. Additionally, several conservative politicians also made disparaging comments about Muslim immigrants with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz even going so far as to suggest that the U.S. "only accept Christian refugees."

Sadly, these types of comments are fueled by fear and ignorance and fail to take numerous factors into account including the fact that the U.S. has an extensive and rigorous refugee vetting process. In fact, refugees who are fleeing civil wars and religious or political persecution who wish to come to the U.S. must take part in an exhaustive background check process which typically takes between 18 to 24 months to complete.

Individuals who wish to claim asylum and seek refuge in the U.S. deserve the opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families. An attorney who handles immigration matters can answer questions and assist throughout the asylum process.

Source: CNN.com, "Entering the U.S. as refugees would be the hardest way for would-be terrorists," Jeremy Diamond, Nov. 20, 2015

The Guardian, "House passes bill adding barriers for Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering US," Ben Jacobs, Nov. 19, 2015

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