Friday, November 20, 2015

Gov. Larry Hogan Tows Trump & Carson's Party Line on Syrian Refugees // Will HoCo's Exec Allan Kittleman Break With GOP?

A SHAME IN MARYLAND: In the week following the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, 30 Governors have said they won’t allow Syrian refugees to resettle in their states until security concerns are concerned. All but one of those governors have been a Republican.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan - who is huddling with his fellow Republican Governors at their conference in Las Vegas this week - had initially sought more time to make a “reasoned and careful decision“ but a day later followed the direction of  almost all the Republican candidates for President and called on federal authorities to “cease any additional settlements of refugees from Syria in Maryland.

Granted, Hogan - nor any of his fellow governors - don’t really have anything with whether refugees are allowed into the US or where they are resettled. Though they can make the lives of women and children fleeing a violent civil war even more miserable. Also it doesn’t seem to matter that of the 2 million refugees welcomed in the US since 1990, zero have been involved in a terrorist attack.

THE ACTUAL SCREENING PROCESS FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES: The US - which has a stringent 18-24 months process to vet and approve refugees - admitted less than 200 Syrian refugees between 2011 and 2014, and only recently quickened the pace. According to the US State Department, 39 such refugees have resettled in Maryland since 2011 - 79% of them arriving in 2015. The United States had planned to accept 10,000 refugees in 2016. In contrast, French President Francois Hollande said his country would accept 30,000, and expend 50 million euros to support refugee housing.

MARYLAND DEMOCRATS RESPOND: Hogan’s decision has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats. Rep. Cummings called Hogan’s actions “heartless” and “a betrayal of America’s values” while Rep. Van Hollen decried the Governor’s “shameful” demagoguery. Former Governor O’Malley - who was the first Democratic candidate for President to call on the Obama Administration to accept more refugees fleeing Syria’s civil war -- called on Americans to “overcome fear and remain true to [our] values.”

Local Democratic leaders have also sought to separate themselves from the Governor. Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake released the following statement (emphasis mine):
BALTIMORE MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE: Baltimore, Maryland and the United States have proud traditions of welcoming refugees seeking assistance from crises around the world. There are few among us who can claim that their ancestors were indigenous to the United States. Welcoming immigrants and New Americans is a critical part of my strategy to grow Baltimore, and I hope that refugees from Syria will look to our city as a potential place to call home.
This call was echoed today by the Democratic members of the Howard County Council. On Thursday, In a letter to Governor Hogan, the four Democratic members of the Council - Mary Kay Sigaty, Calvin Ball, Jenn Terrasa and Jon Weinstein - stated (emphasis mine):
HOCO DEMOCRATIC COUNCILMEMBERS: In Howard County, we know that our diversity is our strength. Your request to end the settlement of Syrian refugees under the guise of protecting Marylanders erodes that strength by succumbing to fear—a fear that leads to overt racial profiling, which is an affront to our values. Opening our doors to those who are fleeing violence does not endanger our safety; it shows our compassion and hope.
1 in 5 of Howard County’s residents are foreign born and come from over 90 countries. None of Maryland’s current Syrian refugees are located in the County.

WAITING FOR KITTLEMAN: A spokeswoman for Governor Hogan reiterated his stance on Friday. There has been no response from Republican County Executive Allan Kittleman. Blinding following national Trump-Carson Republican herd not only threatens Hogan and Kittleman image as as kinder, gentler Republicans - but their compelling sales pitch as non-ideological, post-partisan executives. Sure, there may be no direct political risk (and as the Huffington Post wrote - hating refugees is pretty much as American as apple pie) - but calls into question their reputation. Hogan and Kittleman still need Democrats to govern - and and mean-spirited decisions could poison the well and erode trust.

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