November 30, 2015

Myrick ’09: Refugees Welcome in Ithaca

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Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 announced that he will do “everything in [his] power to welcome Syrian refugees to Ithaca” in a Nov. 17 post on his Facebook page, echoing sentiments many New York State officials have also shown.

Referencing a Washington Post article about Americans’ negative attitude towards accepting Jewish refugees at the brink of World War II, Myrick wrote, “If we turn away all Syrian refugees, we are committing the same sin.”

There is a strong historical precedent for accepting refugees in New York State and in the Ithaca area — nearly one-third of refugees from the former Soviet Union sent to the United States were resettled in New York, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

In 2014, New York had the third highest resettlement rate of refugees across the U.S. states, admitting a total of 4,082 refugees. Ninety-five percent of all New York State refugees were resettled to upstate New York that year.

In particular, the Ithaca and Syracuse area has a high population of Burmese refugees, with the area accepting over 3,000 Burmese refugees by 2010, according to data presented by NYU Steinhardt School.­­­­

Myrick’s stance aligns with many New York State legislators. On Nov. 19, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies SAFE Act, which calls for stricter vetting procedures for Iraqi and Syrian refugees applying to the U.S. for refuge, 14 of 27 New York Representatives voted against its passing.

While states cannot determine federal policy on refugees, several Cornell law professors approved of Myrick’s and New York State legislator’s decisions.

Prof. Sital Kalantry, law, who specializes in international human rights, said she “welcomes” Myrick’s statement.

“Welcoming asylum seekers is consistent with the values of our city,” Kalantry said.

Prof. Stephen Yale-Loehr, law, said that while refugee policy falls under federal control, “New York State is doing the right thing.”

“States cannot accept refugees from country X and refuse to accept refugees from country Y,” Yale-Loehr said. “It is wise for New York State to welcome Syrian refugees. People do not understand the careful vetting process.”

Though refugee policy falls under federal jurisdiction, New York State admits refugees through  additional programs not available all over the country. New York is one of just 14 states that participates in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors program, which offers various forms of health, education, financial and case management to help minors entering without a guardian.

New York’s Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance also offers various refugee aid programs, including the local county-provided Refugee Cash Assistance and Refugee Medical Assistance for those not eligible for other federal assistance programs.

Though the amount of Syrian refugees that may potentially relocate to New York State is not yet known, nearly 50 Syrian refugees have already settled in New York so far this year, according to The Associated Press.

  • I agree with Mayor Myrick. We should let Syrian refugees in, not only for humanitarian reasons, but because slamming the door in their faces is exactly what Daesh wants. I explain in more detail here.

    • Let me ask you something: if ISIS has nothing to do with Islam, then why would Muslims be compelled to join if they are turned away?

      Further, why don’t the “peaceful Muslim” countries step up and take in these refugees? Or better yet, why don’t these refugees, especially those 18-30, stay and fight for their country and their freedom? Americans did it. Europeans did it. Now it’s time for them to do it.

  • Dave Kennedy

    This mayor is doing one thing! Being politically correct to push a liberal agenda. Sounds like our fearless leader in the white house.
    This mayor does not share my sentiment. He cannot garruntee that there will be no radical extreme elements among those brought to Ithaca. But he does not care because after all itz all about pushing PC.

  • Abe ’14

    Such a joke. I hope Myrick is ready to house all these refugees, as well. Then he can go explain to the bevy of homeless in Ithaca why they haven’t been provided for.

    Myrick is also delusional when he compares this situation to Jews fleeing Europe.

    There was NO RISK of Jews fleeing Europe being terrorists. Here, we’re dealing with an enemy that would be stupid (and we know they are not stupid) not to try and get some of its agents into the U.S. as refugee, especially given a screening process that can’t possibly run anything close to a comprehensive background check on people with no papers or records.

    It is undisputed that ISIS wants to attack us. It is undisputed that ISIS is made up of a ton of Syrians. It is undisputed that some of these Syrian refugees (many, in fact), are actually sympathetic to the ISIS cause. It is undisputed that one of the terrorists in Paris was a Syrian refugee.

    There is NOTHING xenophobic about not wanting these refugees to come to the United States. The U.S. takes in tens of thousands of immigrants every single year. We take in a huge number of refugees every year. This has absolutely nothing to do with xenophobia.
    There is no proper way to vet these people. No, we’re not worried about the orphaned kids. We’re worried about the 13-30 year-olds with no backgrounds. So we’ll take their fingerprints. So what? There’s nothing to run it against. So we’ll ask for their names and passports. So what? Those can be faked and bought, as one was in the Paris attacks.
    We MUST protect the homeland. There is not a single person out there who is saying that all 10,000 refugees are terrorists. No one thinks all muslims are terrorists. No one thinks all Syrians all terrorists. But it only takes a few to cause some serious damage.

    • Irony

      “No one thinks all Syrians all terrorists. But it only takes a few to cause some serious damage.”

      Interesting logic. How do you feel about stricter gun control? After all, not all gun owners are terrorists, but it only takes a few to cause some serious damage.

      • If I thought that the other 9,990 Syrian refugees could stop the 10 (or more?) that are going to work to destroy this country, then I might feel the same as I do about guns. That is, it is in our Constitution (or, at least, our Constitution has been interpreted in such a way) that citizens have the right to bear arms. I have never heard of an NRA convention being attacked. Instead, it’s the soft targets–schools, movie theaters, sports stadiums–that are the focus of terrorists and psychopaths.

        Plus, guns are here. They’re not going away. Restricting the use of guns by lawful citizens only serves to disarm those that might actually be able to protect others.

        But letting in 10,000 refugees whom we can’t vet? Come on. Don’t try to equate the two.

  • Uh, Clem

    Ithaca is a city that welcomes everyone. Hell, we even let Republicans in.