On Nov. 19, Representative Jan Schakowsky released the following statement after voting against legislation that would block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States: 

“Last week’s tragic attacks in Paris and Lebanon were a horrific reminder of the threat that terrorism poses to our global community. They also showed us the importance of coming together as one community to stand strong against those who wish to rip the world apart to serve their narrow ideological ends. 

“This bill before us today follows the all too common reactionary path that feeds fear mongering, hate and division, at a time when unity is needed most. We do not have to choose between security and compassion. 

“Refugees undergo the highest level security screenings of anyone who enters this country. They undergo rigorous levels of screening before they even enter the country and typically have to wait for over one year before they come to America. Those who claim the vetting process doesn’t exist or is insufficient are either unfamiliar with the details of the program or are spreading myths. 

“We don’t need to turn our backs on those who need help. With violence and terrorism at their worst in Syria, House Republicans want to block refugees from seeking a safe haven in our nation of immigrants. As a Jew, I’m reminded of when the United States closed its doors on those fleeing the Holocaust, sending many back to their deaths. It is very, very painful to think that we could do the same thing today to Syrians – Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis – who are seeking safety. That we could deny a safe haven to mothers trying to save their babies from bombs or starvation. 

“In the wake of these tragic attacks it is important that our nation comes together and does not give in to the hateful rhetoric of fear and division. Closing our borders at this precise moment would only deepen the problems in Syria and in the Middle East, creating many more down the road. Instead, let’s come together, welcome those in need and live up to the values of our country.”