Published On: Wed, Dec 16th, 2015

Obama Compares Syrian Refugees to Jewish Holocaust Survivors

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Barack Obama


Without calling out Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump by name or directly raising his controversial proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States, Obama identified a parallel between Syrian refugees and Jewish fleeing Europe during World War II.

President Obama spoke against anti-immigrant sentiment today at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens in Washington D.C., in the wake of rising antagonism against Muslim and other immigrants in the U.S. Thirty-one immigrants from 25 different countries were sworn in at the National Archives on the 224th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights.

Listing instances of past discrimination against Japanese, Irish and Italian immigrants, Obama said, “on days like today, we need to resolve to never repeat mistakes like that again”.

“The tension throughout our history between welcoming or rejecting the stranger, it’s about more than just immigration”. The president has been striving to balance such rhetoric with a plea for tolerance towards American Muslims, and a pragmatic approach to allowing Syrian refugees into the country. We don’t simply welcome new immigrants, we don’t simply welcome new arrivals – we are born of immigrants. We betrayed these documents.

During his speech, Obama said to the soon-to-be American citizens, that America was an “immigrant nation”, but admitted that it hasn’t always lived up to its ideals.

“We should have been doing what they’re doing for the last seven years”, he told the crowd, in a criticism of the Obama administration.

Obama said that new Americans “revitalize and renew America” by starting new businesses and adding to the nation’s cultural fabric. They also built America. “We succumbed to fear”, he said of these episodes.

The shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 Americans was carried out by US-born Syed Farook and his Pakistani wife Tashfeen Malik, who arrived in the United States on a fiancee visa. How quickly we forget. Republicans in Congress have been pushing legislation that would make the process of vetting Syrian refugees heading to the US even more complicated; it is unlikely to pass. At least 30 governors from both parties said that they didn’t want Syrian refugees – many of whom are mothers and children – resettled in their states.

“One generation passes, two generation passes, and suddenly we don’t remember where we came from”, Obama said on Tuesday. “Now you have to help us write the next great chapter in America’s story”. “And we suggest that somehow there is “us” and there is “them”, not remembering we used to be “them”. Trump also proposed the deportation of undocumented immigrants, and building a wall between the US and Mexico to keep would-be immigrants from crossing the southern USA border.

This article was first published at Press Chronicle

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