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Governors Who Say They Will Close Doors on Syrian Refugees Pander to Fear and Ignorance

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is appalled by the declarations of the U.S. governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, that they will not allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states.

PHR has documented in detail the atrocities committed by the government of Syria against civilians during more than four years of the conflict there. Syrian refugees and their families have endured extraordinary levels of persecution and trauma. Gaining safe haven in the United States affords them a critical lifeline.

Ruling out the beacon of hope that resettlement in the United States represents for people from an entire nation is not only grossly discriminatory, immoral, and inhumane, it also violates the principles of the Refugee Convention, a treaty to which the United States is bound.

“Closing the door to this population group as a whole in the aftermath of the terrible attacks in Paris is a form of dangerous fear-mongering,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at PHR. “Such declarations by leaders risk provoking discrimination and even incitement to violence against groups and communities that are the most deserving of our support right now.”

It is also well known that current U.S. vetting procedures for refugees are already so stringent that the United States is far behind in achieving its stated quotas for admission of refugees.

PHR appeals to the governors of these states to immediately withdraw their provocative and incendiary pronouncements and on all U.S. governors to reiterate their commitment, in keeping with U.S. government policy, to receive and welcome refugees who are fleeing horrific violence in their countries of origin.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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Kevin Short

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