Senator Tom Udall weighed in on the hot-button topic of how the United States should deal with refugees from Syria, saying they should take a balanced approach.
Udall also urged focus on who the U.S. is fighting.
“We are not at war against a religion; we’re fighting radical extremist thugs who are driven by violence and hatred,” Udall said in a statement sent on Tuesday afternoon. “Knee-jerk, fear-driven policies that would deny help to desperate children and innocent families are contrary to America’s history and values and have no place in a must-pass bill to keep our government operating.”
Martin Heinrich, the other U.S. Senator from New Mexico, spoke about the issue earlier on Tuesday.
Udall said that Congress should oversee the process for screening potential Syrian refugees, but should take a balanced approach.
“We should carefully examine the process to ensure we’re rigorously scrutinizing potential refugees – and improve on it if necessary,” Udall said. “But blanket refusals to help innocent people, including mothers and orphans who are desperately seeking safety from ISIS violence, are a rejection of the values that our country was founded on and feed into terrorist propaganda.”
In recent days, following the terror attacks in Paris, governors around the country have said they would not take in refugees from Syria. New Mexico’s governor, Susana Martinez, herself said she wants more information from the federal government before accepting refugees.
President Barack Obama’s administration has said they intend to accept 10,000 refugees from Syria.
Governor’s do not have many legal options to stop refugees from entering the country, thanks to long-standing federal laws. They can, however, make things more difficult when attempting to resettle refugees.
Udall’s colleague in the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas, announced on Monday that he would introduce legislation that would bar Muslims from Syria from entering the United States. Cruz is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
House Republicans are exploring legislation to react to refugees from Syria.
Obama, spoke earlier this week in Turkey about the efforts to keep Syrian Muslims out of the country when he said, “We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
“And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” he said, his voice rising. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Udall noted that more than 12 million people have been displaced thanks to the ongoign civil war in Syria, “more people than Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake and the Indian Ocean tsunami combined.”
“Refusing to help those who have passed repeated vettings will not keep us safer,” Udall said. “It will fuel the terrorists’ hateful anti-Western ideology.”