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Compassion Over Fear

Creative Commons photo from Freedom House via Flickr

Creative Commons photo from Freedom House via Flickr

The United States has a long history of welcoming the stranger – both those seeking political asylum and immigrants. Judeo-Christian tradition also places high value on welcoming the stranger, contrary the current political rhetoric from our current Present about building walls to keep out immigrants and foreigners. Even conservative Christians insist we must have,”compassion over fear.”

The United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees says there are currently more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees seeking assistance after fleeing five years of conflict in Syria.  Over 2,500 Syrians have lost their lives while taking dangerous journeys to European countries.  The Syrian conflict has led to the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis and the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

According to World Vision “most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; about 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe.

Redding Voice supports protecting refugees and asylum seekers, including Syrian refugees seeking admission to the United States. While we must carefully screen refugees seeking admission to the U.S., we also believe that we must not neglect innocent Syrians in need.  Earlier this year, California US Senator Dianne Feinstein joined Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and other fellow Senators, in a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that the United States increase the number of Syrian refugees who may seek resettlement in the United States.  We applaud that decision.

Senator Feinstein also voted against proceeding to the “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015″ (H.R. 4038) when it came before the Senate for a vote on January 20, 2016.  This bill would have effectively halted all Syrian refugee admissions into the U.S. by adding administrative processes without meaningfully improving the screening process for refugees.  She also supported the Fiscal Year 2016 Federal Appropriations law (Public Law 114-113), which included a $100 million increase in funding for local refugee resettlement efforts, a $50 million increase from the President’s budget request.   In addition, this bill did not contain any provisions to roll back our current refugee program or restrict the admittance of Syrian refugees.

According to Wikipedia the United States has contributed $4.7 billion in financial aid, but as of February 2016 the country had only resettled 2,819 Syrians.

John McKnight, co-author with Peter Block and Walter Brueggemann of An Other Kingdom:Departing the Consumer Culture recently said “welcoming strangers is a true mark we are not in the consumer market:”