UN Special Envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, has reached out to America and President Trump to reconsider their stance on refugees seeking asylum.
In an impassioned op-ed for The New York Times, Jolie spoke about her country’s proud history of “giving shelter to the most vulnerable people”, and pleaded with America to remember its values or risk alienating and endangering those who need us the most.
Jolie spoke about the importance of countries to protect their borders and ensure their citizens are safe, but, she warns, the government must “balance the needs of its citizens with its international responsibilities”
She goes on to stress that “our response must be measured and should be based on facts, not fear.”
“As the mother of six children, who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens, I very much want our country to be safe for them, and all our nation’s children. But I also want to know that refugee children who qualify for asylum will always have a chance to plead their case to a compassionate America. And that we can manage our security without writing off citizens of entire countries — even babies — as unsafe to visit our country by virtue of geography or religion.”
Jolie went on to say that the rhetoric that Trump and his team have used throughout their campaign, and now in office, is damaging and inflammatory.
“It is simply not true that our borders are overrun or that refugees are admitted to the United States without close scrutiny.”
She continued: “Refugees are in fact subject to the highest level of screening of any category of traveler to the United States. This includes months of interviews, and security checks carried out by the F.B.I., the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
“Furthermore, only the most vulnerable people are put forward for resettlement in the first place: survivors of torture, and women and children at risk or who might not survive without urgent, specialized medical assistance.”
This kind of action, without proper and considered protocol and more importantly, reason, puts America at risk of starting a dangerous pattern around the world.
“If we send a message that it is acceptable to close the door to refugees, or to discriminate among them on the basis of religion, we are playing with fire. We are lighting a fuse that will burn across continents, inviting the very instability we seek to protect ourselves against.”
“If we Americans say that these obligations are no longer important, we risk a free-for-all in which even more refugees are denied a home, guaranteeing more instability, hatred and violence.”
Finally, and most importantly, Jolie stresses the importance of looking to the future when addressing the nation’s present issues:
“If we create a tier of second-class refugees, implying Muslims are less worthy of protection, we fuel extremism abroad, and at home we undermine the ideal of diversity cherished by Democrats and Republicans alike: “America is committed to the world because so much of the world is inside America,” in the words of Ronald Reagan. If we divide people beyond our borders, we divide ourselves.”
“We all want to keep our country safe. So we must look to the sources of the terrorist threat — to the conflicts that give space and oxygen to groups like the Islamic State, and the despair and lawlessness on which they feed. We have to make common cause with people of all faiths and backgrounds fighting the same threat and seeking the same security. This is where I would hope any president of our great nation would lead on behalf of all Americans.”