As part of Community Conversations, we asked the following question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently: Should the Paris attacks change how Florida handles Syrian refugees? Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
Prior to President Obama accepting an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S., 1,800 have already been relocated within our state borders under refugee status as well. This isn’t our first rodeo. What Governor Scott needs to come to grips with is that Syrians are, by majority, Shi’ite Muslims. ISIS are extremist Sunni Muslims. What Floridians also need to understand is that Gov. Scott has no say in the matter. The call to accept refugees into our borders and allocate them within states is a power held by the federal government. All the governor can do is withhold funds to help settle the refugees once they arrive in the state; however, if he chooses to withhold funds from the Syrian refugees, he must withhold funds from all refugee groups coming into the state.
Alex Hernandez, Miami
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No refugees should be allowed to enter the United States. It is too easy to intermingle terrorists into that group. There is no way to check on anyone’s credentials. The president’s first obligation is to protect the people and the homeland. He is not doing his job. Our president is allowing a Trojan horse into the United States and trying to guilt everyone into accepting this.
Evelyn Stahl, Hallandale Beach
If anything we should increase our commitment to Syrian refugees who are fleeing ISIS and Bashar al-Assad. As horrific as the Paris attacks were, they pale in comparison to the persecution and daily attacks that Syrians have had to endure since the civil war began. The violence and devastation has only increased with the growth of ISIS.
Marvel Mayfield, Pompano Beach
ISIS has infiltrated the Syrian refugees, and there is no way to tell who is who. Didn’t anyone learn anything from 9/11? If some can be Identified as Christian, fine, but no to others.
Robert Black, South Miami
As a group that has suffered systemic discrimination as a result of unfair immigration policies, the Haitian-American community empathizes with the Syrian refugees. We are urging President Obama to keep his mind and heart open, and not succumb to the misguided positions of politicians who want to board their states to keep these refugees out. They forgot that their families were kept out of the U.S., they would not be here today.
Marleine Bastien, North Miami Beach
A failure to accept Syrians would be a moral equivalent to when we sent 937 Jews aboard the St. Louis back to Nazi Germany. We have already resettled over 2,000 Syrians here, without a problem. One of nine of the French terrorists was from Syria. At least five were from France. Should we ban French emigration? Should we expel all Cuban-Americans because five Cuban emigrants were Castro spies?
James Wilson, Plantation
We are a nation of immigrants, and a beacon of freedom to the oppressed. To deny them based on their race or religion insults the rich multicultural history of our country. It also disrespects those that have died in order to keep this country free. Process them thoroughly, of course, and be certain to know the difference between refugee and sleeper terrorist. Fifty-five years ago, many here wanted to close our borders to Cubans fleeing oppression. I’m personally glad we didn’t then, and we shouldn’t now.
Noah Waller, Miami
Terror is an emotion that can paralyze, and we are living in fearful times. As Americans, we still must be place of refuge for people from all over the world, but given the realities of our modern world, we must sometimes make sure that the people we let in don’t wish us harm. In spite of what some politicians or (would be politicians) may be saying, this is not an immigration issue, it’s a security issue.
Charles Peters, Miami
Yes, stop the flow until we can get security clearances and background checks in place for these people. I hate to say it, but at this point it’s either them or us. I have enough problems. I don’t want to die as well.
Allison Strong, Hollywood
Allowing in these immigrants can go a long way toward telling the Arab world that the U.S. is not the “Great Satan.”
Abe Sternberg, Coral Springs
We welcome Cubans with open hearts, even those who are not in danger if they remained in their own country. In this time of crisis on the Middle East, we should extend the hand of friendship to those who have lost so much in Syria.
Betty King, Miami Beach
Yes, we should refuse any people who cannot be properly vetted. The way the screening process is working right now is abysmal to say the least, we don’t know who these people are, nor their intentions. We owe it to our families, our friends and our communities to place the safety of our current residents and citizens above all other concerns. The one biggest task that government has is to ensure the safety of the people. All other matters are secondary to our safety.
John Turman, Miami Springs
[This week] an entire major highway was shut down because two guys with machine guns shot each other up. We had a guy eating other people’s faces. People plow their cars into crowds and people on a regular basis. What makes you think Syrian refugees will make this place more dangerous?
Melissa Good, Pembroke Pines
Terrorists already cross many borders without the need to pose as refugees. While some vetting of refugees may be in order, denying their entry altogether compounds the impacts of terrorism and sends the message that we really don’t care what happens to innocent people who have been horrendously victimized. Ignoring their plight is a victory for the terrorists and could even aid their recruitment. The words on the Statue of Liberty regarding giving us your poor and hungry become meaningless and hallow at that point.
Donald Allen, Miami