Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
One of the points in Mr. Trump’s platform that I believe attracts many of his followers is his desire to impose a ban on all Muslim immigration, including or especially refugees. They believe it’s something we must do to keep our country safe from potential terrorist attacks.
Let’s forget though that since 9/11, 80% of terrorist attacks in this country were committed by US citizens and 64% by citizens born in this country (source).
Let’s forget Mr. Trump’s claim,
But I don’t want to have, with all the problems this country has and all of the problems you see going on, hundreds of thousands of people come in from Syria where we know nothing about them.
Because right now we are only allowing 10,000 refugees in and we are behind in that amount (source) and even if Mr. Trump is correct and Secretary Clinton wants to increase that by 550% (read the transcript), that would only be a total of 55,000, not “hundreds of thousands.”
What I want to remember instead is that Mr. Trump’s argument has been used before. In the late 1930s and 1940s, arguments against allowing Jewish refugees, really all European refugees, into this country had a similar bent, fear of communists sneaking into this country and even worse, nazi spies, were used to keep refugees from our shores.
And you know what? They were correct. Among a group of refugees allowed into this country in 1942 was Herbert Karl Friedrich Bahr, a 28-year old nazi spy. You know what else? During his vetting, “his story unravelled” and the FBI charged him with being a nazi spy. (source). You know what else, while he was born in Germany, he had immigrated to the US in his teens (not as a refugee) and became a US Citizen. Sound familiar?
One spy. Caught by the vetting process. Charged and convicted. Yet it fueled the fear of refugees entering this country through the war. Not that it really mattered, because even without that case this country hemmed and hawed on allowing European refugees in from the rise of Naziism well past its defeat.
We all know what happened. Millions dead. Murdered. Genocide. Holocaust.
So, yes, refugees are scary. But you know what is scarier? Knowing we could have saved a life, five lives, a hundred lives, a thousand lives, tens of thousands of lives and we willfully stood by and did nothing. Again.