- - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tribalism is instinctive and vicious.

It is flourishing among more than half of the governors who, having sworn to support the United States Constitution, have squawked opposition to Syrian refugees within their state’s borders in violation of their oaths. But what’s the Constitution or facts to tribal savages frightened of their shadows?

The Constitution entrusts foreign affairs—including immigration—to the federal government. States are excluded, including an express prohibition on compacts or agreements with foreign powers. Governors have no authority to prohibit refugees from entering their States.

James Madison, father of the Constitution, elaborated in Federalist 23, “If we are to be one nation in any respect, it clearly ought to be in respect to other nations.” The Revolutionary War was won by heeding Benjamin Franklin’s admonition: “We must all hang together or surely we will all hang separately.” And Justice Benjamin Cardozo added in Baldwin v. Seelig, “The Constitution was framed… upon the theory that the peoples of the several states must sink or swim together, and that in the long run prosperity and salvation are in union and not division.”

As regards to interstate travel, the U.S. Supreme Court explained in Crandall v. Nevada, “For all the great purposes for which the Federal government was formed we are one people, with one common country. We are all citizens of the United States, and as members of the same community must have the right to pass and repass through every part of it without interruption, as freely as in our own States.”

In Edwards v. California, the Court held that States were powerless to prohibit sister jurisdiction indigents from entering. Justice Potter Steward amplified in United States v. Guest:

“The constitutional right to travel from one State to another … occupies a position fundamental to the concept of our Federal Union. It is a right that has been firmly established and repeatedly recognized. … [T]he right finds no explicit mention in the Constitution. The reason, it has been suggested, is that a right so elementary was conceived from the beginning to be a necessary concomitant of the stronger Union the Constitution created. In any event, freedom to travel throughout the United States has long been recognized as a basic right under the Constitution.”

On Nov. 13, 2015, 130 Parisians were killed in multiple terrorist attacks orchestrated by the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Several of the terrorists had connections to Syria.

Syria has been convulsed by war for four years. The death toll exceeds 250,000. Refugees number 4 million, complementing 6.5 million displaced persons. Hundreds of civilians have been killed by United States bombs purportedly targeting the Islamic State.

During the past three years, the United States has admitted approximately 2,200 Syrian refugees. Most have been women, children, the elderly, persecuted religious minorities, or victims of violence or torture. Relatively few have been adult males.

The 18-24 month refugee vetting process is robust. It begins abroad with an initial screening by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, followed by independent scrutiny from the State Department, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Defense Department.

Since 9/11, 784,395 refugees have been admitted into the United States. Of that number, 3 have been arrested on terrorism charges. No person who entered the United States as a refugee has killed even one human being in a terrorist attack here. That satisfies the gold standard of safety.

President Obama has proposed accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year, which would constitute .004 percent of the population.

Tribalist governors, nevertheless, never miss an opportunity to excite and exploit the xenophobic impulses of their constituents. They have inflated the probability that a Syrian refugee will commit a terrorist attack from virtually zero to a virtual certainty — akin to implying that bottled water is poison.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is emblematic of his sister naysaying governors. With the flint-heartedness of Lady Macbeth, the governor clucks that he would brook no exceptions to his “No Syrian Refugees Permitted” stance, including for orphans under the age of 5 and, inferentially, Syrian 3-year-old toddlers like Aylan Kurdi hoping to escape drowning off New Jersey shores.

Is it possible to stoop lower?


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