Dear Gov. Hassan –
I am grateful for all the work you do on behalf of our state and appreciate your willingness to work through conflict.
Today I write to you to ask you to reconsider your public statement that New Hampshire will not accept Syrian Refugees. I ask you to reconsider on two merits; the first is legal and the second is humanitarian.
If I understand it correctly you cannot legally refuse to take refugees. If that is the case why say that you will refuse them? I ask you to stand up to fear and the pressure to close down in the face of violence and threat. I ask you to stand by our highest principles and commitments which are not, in fact, to absolute safety but to allowing people to live freely and unfettered by totalitarianism or religious oppression. Yes, one of the Paris attackers may have been registered as a refugee. And one of the attackers was a French citizen. The Economist magazine says that 750,000 refugees have been resettled in the United States since 9/11 and not one has been arrested on domestic terrorism charges.*
This second reason that I ask you to reconsider your stance is more fundamental. When the attacks occurred in Paris people opened their doors to shelter strangers from the danger. #PorteOuverte, open door. Could an attacker have gotten one of those addresses and further terrorized people? Yes, absolutely. And people posted their addresses anyway and took each other in, fellow citizens and strangers. That is humanity at our best, take in those in need. Choosing life and connection over fear of possible danger.
I suspect we will make more headway against terrorism in the world if we stop trying to track down everyone who has violence on their minds and spend our time and energy on feeding and sheltering the vulnerable. Then the desperation that leads to violence will dwindle away. I hope that every person in this State, in our country, will consider taking in a refugee from the civil war in Syria, any war torn country. Building connections are our greatest defense against terrorism. Open Door.
Please reconsider your stance. I, for one, would shelter a refugee.
Rev. Kendra Ford