SEATTLE, WA. — Elected officials and community leaders from across Seattle and Washington State called for on citizens to reject fear and panic following weeks of harmful and discriminatory rhetoric aimed at refugees seeking resettlement in the United States. Citing Washington State’s long history of opening its doors and providing equal opportunity to those seeking a safe haven and a chance at a better life, Washington State leaders urged the community to remember the longstanding history of Washington State serving as a place of refuge, making us one of the most inclusive and diverse states in the country.
November 24, 2015
Washington State Leaders: Reject Fear & Panic Surrounding Refugee Resettlement
“The senseless violence that has recently occurred in Paris and Beirut has understandably made people fearful and afraid. But we as a community cannot let the fear and panic that has recently gripped our political debate blind us from doing what is right. I commend Governor Inslee for seeing past the political gamesmanship and joining a long list of Washington State leaders who have compassionately opened the doors to our state to those escaping hardship and despair. Instead of trying to score cheap political points at the expense of honest and hard working families trying to flee a war zone, we should see it as our personal and social responsibility as a country built by immigrants to welcome and protect them,” said Congressman Jim McDermott.
“We are a state – and a nation – that has always taken the path of promoting freedom and being a beacon of hope and refuge for those fleeing persecution. We’ve hewed to those values even in troubled times, and when we haven’t, we’ve regretted it. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we are as a country. Washington state will continue to promote freedom and be a beacon of hope. We will not succumb to fear or those who try to turn us against those most in need of our help,” said Governor Jay Inslee.
“I am proud to join so many in Seattle and across Washington state in our fight to keep our state safe, secure, and free of hate in all of its forms. In Washington state, we understand that immigrants and refugees who come to build better lives for themselves and their families make our state stronger, more vibrant, and more prosperous. We believe that in Washington state, and everywhere, people should be free from hatred and violence no matter where they came from, what their immigration status is, who they love, or where they live. Our country faces serious threats from those who oppose our commitment to openness and tolerance—but we can fight back and do everything possible to keep our families safe without slamming the door on women, children, and families who are fleeing from hatred and violence themselves, and without tossing aside those Washington state and American values that we hold so dear,” said Senator Patty Murray.
“The refugee resettlement program is the most scrutinized path of entry into the United States. It involves multiple background checks and can take years. We should remain diligent in our refugee screening, but we must not forget that these people are victims of war and unspeakable violence?. Washingtonians have long had the compassion and courage to welcome people escaping violence and extremism from all parts of the world, of all faiths and backgrounds. I ?am working with my colleagues in the Senate to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening security measures in the visa waiver program and equip our immigration offices with better technology to collect biometric data and other information that will help unmask extremist threats to our communities. Since the founding of this great nation, we have welcomed those seeking freedom and liberty. Now, we must have the strength of a nation created by the diversity and ingenuity of immigrants, and welcome those in need who are granted legal entry to this country,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.
“The terror attacks that have taken place throughout the world in recent weeks highlight the continued challenge we face in the fight against terrorist networks. The international community, and the states of our union, must continue to stand united in our common goal of combating extremism if we are to defeat the terror networks that seek to do us harm. As we fight terrorism we must remember that we are a nation of immigrants, and not let terrorist groups define or change who we are. We cannot let fear cloud our judgement, drive policy or destroy the fabric of what America stands for. Rhetoric that proposes excluding all Muslim refugees feeds the anti-American narrative and empowers ISIS to wrongly paint the American people as anti-Islamic. During times of controversy, we need to remember that we are a nation that continually strives for equal protection for all. As we face and address terrorist threats, we must stay true to the values enshrined in our Constitution, and remember the phrase on the Great Seal of the United States: out of many, one. Today, we say to the diverse community of Washington state, comprised of many immigrants and refugees: we stand with you. Whether you worship in a mosque, a synagogue, a church, or not at all, you are welcome here,” said Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09).
“Fear is an understandable response to violence and terror. Rather than letting fear drive the way we treat each other, we should undermine terror by living up to American values and helping those feeling violence in Syria and elsewhere throughout the world. Washington state has a long history of welcoming refugees and helping those in need find safety and opportunity for themselves and their families. I am proud to be from a state that recognizes the important contributions that refugees and immigrants make in our communities. I am hopeful that we can continue to lead our country in welcoming people who have lost their homes and are seeking the same things we all want: hope, dignity and opportunity for our families,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02).
“What happened in Paris was a tragedy. But if we start rejecting families fleeing violence because of where they are from or their religious beliefs, we will be going against our values and playing into the hands of the terrorists,” Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) said. “We must not let fear or ignorance undermine our country’s long tradition of tolerance, openness and opportunity for all who seek refuge in our borders. The safety of Americans is my top priority but we don’t need to close our doors to Syrian women and children to keep Americans safe.”
“We must do everything in our power to keep Americans safe. Not only would the bill passed by the House have made it harder for desperate women and children to find safety, it would divert law enforcement and intelligence assets away from those who pose the greatest threat to our security, and instead require investigations of people we know pose no risk. While the attacks in Paris are terrible and it’s critical to keep all Americans safe and secure, it is also important in times like these to remember our values and to continue to serve as a beacon of freedom for the world,” said Congressman Derek Kilmer (WA-06).
“After the tragic attacks and loss of life in Paris, it is paramount the cowardly extremists be held accountable for their actions. We must remember however, that the goal of these extremists is to remove us from our founding principles of treating everyone equally under the law, never discriminating on the basis of religion, and welcoming the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We must be led by our values and refuse to be led by fear and ignorance,” said Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10).
“Seattle remains a welcoming city for refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. “These families are seeking a safe community to raise their children and build a new peaceful, prosperous life. We must continue to live our American values. We remember the words written on the Statue of Liberty, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’”