As written previously by Michael “Vass” Vasquez at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **
There is a saying that all politics is local. This hits a chord considering the most recent comments by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The national controversy is now not only affecting States, but local communities, like in Binghamton, New York.
To put the situation into context, President Obama ordered on September 10, 2015, for his Administration to create the framework to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. This would increase the number of Syrian refugees, fleeing a civil war that includes ISIS as combatants, by six-fold. It would also ignore the 18-24 month period for background checks that refugees normally require.
On December 7 2015, Donald Trump stated that the US should temporarily ban Muslims, which would include the Syrian refugees. While there has been strong backlash from pundits and elected politicians, including many Republicans, the proposed ban is not without Precedent. A ban on Iranians was enacted by President Jimmy Carter in 1980 under 8 USC 1182 (13) (f) Suspension of entry or imposition of restrictions by President
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
Prior to the announcement by Donald Trump many Democrats had doubts about the push by the Obama Administration to accept the Syrian Refugees. Sen. Diane Feinstein is one of the notable voices calling for delay since November 2015,
“In light of the Paris attacks, keeping our borders secure from ISIL terrorists must be our number one priority. As part of that, we need to be very careful about Syrian refugee admissions and ensure we can continue to balance our security with helping those most in need…The Paris attacks will certainly alter the debate about Syrian refugees, and it’s clear to me we must prioritize the safety and security of the American people.”
In addition, a Quinnipiac poll releaed just after the San Bernadino shooting on December 3, 2015, showed that 52% of American opposed allowing Syrian refugees from entering the nation (83% felt a major terrorist attack was imminent). In an Investors Business Daily (IBD) poll on December 7, 2015, 60% responded that they felt the Syrian Refugees posed a threat to the nation. This threat was confirmed as a real concern by Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas on on the same day as the IBD poll and the comments from Donald Trump.
“The NCTC has identified “individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program.” – Excerpt of classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center to Rep. Michael McCaul
On the local level, in New York State, the issue of the Syrian refugees has had mixed responses. New York is one of 7 States whose Governor has welcomed the potential influx of Syrian refugees. But in Utica, the City Council reviewed a proposal to place a moratorium on the expected 400 refugees until 2017. This would allow for the standard 2 year background check to be performed. The proposal was submitted by Democrat Councilman Frank Vescera, and on December 2, 2015 it was placed on hold until Congress and the Obama Administration made final decisions on this issue. As the refugees status is a federal issue, the Utica City Council proposal carried no legal weight, but does reflect the voice of the people.
But in Binghamton, NY, a very different position was taken. On December 10, 2015, the City Council presented a proposal to welcome the refugees. This proposal equally has no legal bearing, and there is no clear indication of how many refugees may get placed in the Southern Tier of New York. In Binghamton, it was also the Democrat majority on the City Council that introduced the proposal. A vote will be taken December 22, 2015, about the welcoming proposal, prior to the 2016 City Council taking office – led by Republicans due to the November election results.
We reached out to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Binghamton Mayor Rich David, Broome County Chairmen James Testani of the Democratic Party and Bijoy Datta of the Republican Party for comment. As of the time of this article being written, no response has been received. But there has been a response in the New York State Senate. Bill S6253 – which seeks to ensure the proper registration, background check and monitoring of refugees seeking asylum in New York State – was submitted by State Senator Terrence Murphy (40th District). Thus far it has 7 co-sponsors, is in committee and awaiting a date to be presented on the floor of the NY State Senate. It is unclear if this Bill would have jurisdiction, or as with the Utica City Council proposal it would be superceded by the federal government.
In addition to seeking a response from the local elected officials and Party leadership, we reached out via social media to hear what local residents had to say about the matter pending in Binghamton. One respondent, Ryan Jenks of Binghamton, had a passionate response to the following questions asked on Facebook on December 10, 2015:
- What do the people think about this resolution?
- Is this something you agree with?
- Is the City Council speaking for your voice?
- Will you attend the Council meeting?
“I am absolutely not interested in seeing any Syrian refugees take shelter here in Broome County. If citizens did the research and learned about Islam’s true intentions and its goals I am sure they would feel the same way. The Qur’an acts as a directive it tells It believers that they must lie if it means getting the upper hand on infidels. The Qur’an directs Muslims to spread Sharia law with brute force. Anyone that believes in a book that directs somebody to force their beliefs on to someone else and do so by any means possible is not someone I want living next door to me.”
Taking all the above into account, it would appear that the subject of the Syrian refugees is a very unsettled and unsettling issue. For almost every voice in Government that is seeking to take in large numbers of refugees without the normal procedure, there is a counter voice that seeks to prevent or delay such action. The major news media (along with a hefty list of elected officials), has taken a decidedly opinionated position on the issue, disregarding and failing to report the legality and prior precedence for the position Donald Trump is standing his ground on. All the while, few seem to be reaching out to the public for their opinion. As a result, America may take in thousands of Syrian refugees, without being able to ensure that the communities these refugees enter will be guaranteed the normal standard of safety precautions.