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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

NCTE Opposes Fear-Mongering, Calls for Compassion for Refugees

NCTE joined other members of the Council for Global Equality today in calling on members of the U.S. Senate to reject legislation, already passed in the House of Representatives as H.R. 4038, that would “bring the refugee resettlement system, which already moves at a very slow pace, to a grinding halt.”  In fact, refugees  are among the most heavily scrutinized immigrants to the US, and the slow asylum system already leaves many people stranded in dangerous and life-threatening conditions as they wait for their applications to advance. Many refugees fleeing war and terrorism in Syria are LGBT people, who are among the most vulnerable of all refugees. LGBT people in these countries are not only fleeing terrorism and war, but also anti-gay witch hunts and public executions.
 
We at NCTE are particularly troubled by the backlash against refugees because it smacks of the same kind of misguided, fear-based policymaking that we have increasingly seen targeting trans people in the US. At a Wisconsin state assembly hearing about an anti-trans bill just last week, legislators heard testimony after testimony that demonized transgender students as dangerous threats to other students, even though the experience of schools across the country shows nothing could be further from the truth. Like the hate-filled rhetoric against Syrian refugees, anti-trans policies and the manipulation of baseless fears to justify them only serves to further harm and stigmatize a vulnerable minority.
 
Sadly, much of the recent rhetoric about refugees in the US is similarly divorced from reality—and this rhetoric is even more dangerous. It’s understandable that in light of the recent, horrific terrorist attacks in Lebanon, France, and Nigeria, many people in the US and around the world are concerned about preventing this kind of violence. There are many things our country can do to address the real risk of terrorism [changed to avoid the repetitive use of “violence” and the use of the loaded term “extremist"], whether its source is domestic or foreign. But “hitting pause” on an already very slow, thorough, and desperately needed process for admitting refugees—people who have been victimized by exactly that kind of violence and are fleeing for their lives—doesn’t help. Imposing additional barriers on people who have already been screened extensively does little to protect our safety and only puts people who deserve our help in more danger.
 
As trans advocates, we are concerned about LGBT refugees—and all refugees. We know well how misguided fears can hurt vulnerable people without helping anyone. We urge the Senate to reject H.R. 4038.
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