Op-Ed

It’s hard enough being a refugee

The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Feb. 20

President Donald Trump and his team have had to do a good deal of explaining in court about his now-suspended 120-day ban on refugee entries. On top of overstepping his authority, Trump also ignores that, for refugees arriving in America, starting anew is an ordeal that involves massive upheaval.

Simply getting here involves an arduous process of interviews, paperwork, multiple background checks and fingerprint screenings. The entire ordeal can take two years or more.

If they’ve managed to overcome the deliberately difficult hurdles and gain entry, refugees then must overcome skeptics here who are convinced they’ve come chiefly to conspire against America. The text of Trump’s order seems designed to encourage social stigma and exclusion: “It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States.”

Statistics show that no refugee has ever been behind any U.S. domestic terrorist attack.

Certain politicians think there are votes to be won by perpetrating the myth that refugees are dangerous, exploitative and better left in their ravaged home countries. Not only does this foment greater resentment and fuel the image of Americans as hard-hearted, it also makes life that much harder for refugees whose suffering goes beyond anything we in this country could possibly imagine.

America has far less to fear from refugees than from unchecked presidential power.

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