State Representative John Wiik (R-4/Big Stone City) tries to parlay the Paris terrorist attacks into anti-immigrant sentiment. He responds to his phone going off with Fox News alerts (’nuff said?) by putting mock quote marks around the “refugees” and shouting “invasion!”
The “refugees” from Syria that are pouring into Europe, and now arriving in the US didn’t look like waves of refugees from previous disasters around the world. These “refugees” are mostly young healthy looking males. Exactly the kind of people one would send in an invasion. I even mentioned it to some friends… “If it’s that bad there, why did they leave the women and children behind?” But, I was overreacting or I was seeing things. We’ve already learned that at least one of the Paris terrorists was from Syria and rescued in Greece from a sinking boat and found his way to France with other refugees.
Syrian refugees are starting to arrive in New Orleans this week. We are expecting 15,000 or so in the United States. The administration doubled down over the weekend on their commitment to receiving Syrian refugees. They have no papers, we know nothing about them, and some of them will eventually be settled in Sioux Falls and Huron, among other places nearby. I sure hope for all of our sakes that these in Paris slipped through the cracks… [Rep. John Wiik, “Have We Forgotten?” wiikfor4, 2015.11.16].
Wiik is repeating a charge from often confused Presidential candidate Ben Carson that the majority of Syrian refugees are (dangerous, evil, coming for your women) young males. Wiik and Carson are both wrong:
Carson is entitled to his opinion about whether or not the United States should allow more Syrian refugees to enter the country, and we take no position on that. But his comment that “the majority of them are young males” is contradicted by the best data available on the Syrian refugees’ demographics.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — which refers refugees for resettlement in other countries — says there are more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees. Its figures on the demographic makeup of refugees is based on available data on the 2.1 million who were registered by the UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. (Another 1.9 million Syrian refugees were registered by the Government of Turkey, and more than 24,000 were registered in North Africa.)
UNHCR’s data show that 50.5 percent of refugees are women. Females age 18 to 59 make up 23.9 percent of the refugees, while males in that age group make up 21.8 percent.
Even younger males — age 12 to 17 — represent 6.5 percent of refugees, while females that age are 6.1 percent. The majority of refugees — 51.1 percent — are under age 17, including 38.5 percent who are younger than 12 years old. These numbers were as of Sept. 6 [Lori Robertson, “Stretching Facts on Syrian Refugees,” FactCheck.org, 2015.09.15].
I invite Rep. Wiik to fact-check that fact-check updated figures, though preferably not from Fox News alerts.
Fact-checking be darned, GOP spin blogger Pat Powers piles on, noting the strain that
invaders refugees place on state and local governments and fake-question-mark-encouraging us to close our state to people fleeing for their lives from ISIS. Powers also commits his chronic claim inflation, citing one blog post from one author—me—as evidence that “South Dakota’s Liberal Democrats”—plural—“are out there saying ‘We should take more refugees from Syria.'”
If I adhered to Pat’s blog standards, I’d say, “Wow: South Dakota wingnut Republicans are dancing on Parisian graves. How shameless.”
But instead of using emotional tragedies to hide the real failure of my party’s failures, I will own my words and reaffirm my position: Syrian men, women, and children are fleeing brutal theocracy. As Americans, as South Dakotans, as children of immigrants, we have a moral obligation to help them (and Pat’s Pope agrees with me). The United States has means to screen immigrants, and we should be cautious, but we must not let our fear override our humanity. We make America safer and stronger by helping people.
The terrorists want us to be afraid. So do Wiik and Powers. I want us to be America, a beacon of hope for all humanity.
p.s.: I haven’t heard Governor Daugaard express fear of bad Syrians sneaking in with refugees, but he’s sure working hard to make sure wealthy foreigners from Communist China can stay in America on the EB-5 visas they bought.