Guest opinion: Tipton should be ashamed
This past week our congressional representative, Scott Tipton, voted for house bill 4038: the American SAFE Act of 2015. The bill, in response to the horrific Paris terrorist attacks, should have been titled the American Xenophobic Act of 2015.
Within days of the attacks on French soil, the president of France announced that his country would welcome 30,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years. Germany will accept 800,000 asylum seekers this year. Meanwhile, our own country — considerably larger and with more resources — has committed to accepting only 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. We accepted 1,682 last year. It will take an average of two years for a Syrian refugee to be vetted by the FBI and Homeland Security before they can make it to the sanctuary of our shores.
The world is currently facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, with thousands of refugees fleeing their countries, the majority from Syria, to escape death at the hands of their own government. Their alternative is to face a perilous journey across sea and land in the hopes that they will find refuge in a welcoming country with the opportunity to begin a new life.
Those are the principles on which America was founded and that are forever inscribed in the Statue of Liberty.
Unfortunately, the reaction of many of our elected officials has been to turn America’s back to those who most need our help — under the ostensible excuse of protecting American security. Since September 11, 2001, the United States has accepted 745,000 refugees, with only two of those subsequently being arrested on terrorist charges.
Our representatives should rightfully examine current procedures and work to ensure the security of our country, but doing so at the expense of America’s ideals is unacceptable.
Ironically, on Mr. Tipton’s congressional website, it states that he is a member of the “Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus.” If Mr. Tipton was true to both his American and religious values, he would use his elected position to advocate for human rights across the globe and work to embrace and offer sanctuary to those refugees who need it most. Instead, he offers lip service to his so-called values while his voting record reveals his true character.
This hypocritical stance is echoed by Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who believe the U.S. should accept only Christian refugees. Even worse, the remaining Republican candidates believe that Syrian refugees should not allowed at all to settle in the U.S.
Today’s world is faced with growing extremism, hatred and the threat of terrorism. Closing our borders and ignoring the plight of mankind will only increase the threats to American security and our ideals.
The refugee crisis is largely the result of America’s failed action, and inaction, in the Middle East. We have a moral duty to take responsibility and embrace those whose lives have been put at risk and upturned.
With Thanksgiving just past us, I would encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect on the safety and prosperity that we enjoy every day here in Colorado. And during the next election remember that Congressman Tipton does not reflect American values: He should be replaced by someone who represents his constituents and not just a narrow-minded minority.
Chris Council lives in Aspen.
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