LETTER: Don't let fear dominate refugee debate

York Dispatch
A Syrian refugee, who agreed to be photographed on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation against family living in Syria, poses for a portrait with her child on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, at the Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley in Whitehall, Pa. Dozens of Syrian refugee families are being resettled in the Allentown, Pa., area in part because the city is already home to one of the nation's largest population of Syrians, who began settling here in the late 1800s.

The past several days have been difficult to say the least but today was the worst for me. I lost respect for many. I once thought they were intelligent thoughtful people that sought to present solutions rather contribute to the problems.

This is about the Syrian refugees. I want to start off by saying that with all immigrants, whether they have a refugee status or not, a thorough vetting is required and if it wasn’t I would be loud about it too.

I subscribe to the newsletters and Facebook pages of our local representatives. I like to keep up to date. Rep. Keith Gillespie posted on his Facebook “I have joined 100 of my colleagues in the House in signing a letter addressed to Gov. Tom Wolf asking him to reconsider his decision to accept Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania.”

The reason I have a problem with this is because all 100 of them know that state governors don’t have a choice. The Refugee Act of 1980 doesn’t give governors that ability and all legislators know this. So what was the purpose of the letter? I’m not going to make guesses,I seriously want to know.

For the last few days governors have been proclaiming that they would refuse refugees in their states. They know they can’t so that. Who was this for? Again, I seriously want to know.

Now I see that Sen. Ted Cruz wants to introduce a bill to stop Syrian Refugees from entering the United States. Finally something that is actually a legitimate claim. Our state representatives and governors were making false gestures about protecting their citizens from potential threats and they know it.

Now let’s look at the viability of Sen. Cruz getting this bill passed. If he could get it through Congress and on the president’s desk, the president will veto it. Congress doesn’t have the votes to override the veto. A lot of money is going to be spent on political ads. Does this sound familiar at all?

So here is the reality. The refugees are going to come and we need to make sure they are properly vetted. Then when they get here we need to treat them as we would want to be treated, because that is what Americans do. So instead of wasting time, money and resource on political points with those yet unidentified, why don’t you (governors, state representatives and Congress) use those resources to fix the vetting process. I know it’s hard but that is what we elected you to do. Identify the problem, come up with possible solutions, come to consensus on a viable solution and make it happen.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media saying that we shouldn’t take in any refugees until our homeless issue is resolved. So I asked if they are taking a homeless person or family into their home. Are you spending time at a shelter or an outreach center to help with the homeless problems? How about at a mental health facility. A lot of our homeless have undiagnosed mental health issues and if properly treated they may find themselves in a better situation.

No responses. I suspect it is because people that do help, don’t feel the need to discuss it on social media.

I know you are scared, there is nothing I can do about that. Scared people make bad decisions. Don’t make any decisions until you conquered your fears. Allow cooler head to prevail. Contribute something useful.

The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was one of the greatest shames of our country. Take ten minutes to read up on it then revisit your thoughts about the Syrian people.

Gus Tatlas

Manchester, PA