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Mississippi And The Refugees: What To Do?

America is a nation that has, historically, been known for its tendency towards compassion and for offering safe harbor to the persecuted.

Syrian Refugees seem to be testing our people’s tolerance for good will towards our fellow man.

In the wake of the Paris attacks and all of the events unfolding in the Middle East and with ISIS, our people are being forced to ask themselves difficult questions that have unclear answers. The bottom line, to many, comes down to whether or not we should continue to offer refuge to those that we fear may harm us. Is that fear rational?

Our Mississippi governor, Phil Bryant, seems to believe it is.

In fact, he has joined with other governor’s and leaders in strongly opposing Obama’s plan to distribute refugees throughout the nation. While I commend the governor for taking a stand on a divisive issue, where many would stay silent and wait out the storm, I have to question any action that I perceive to be reactionary and emotional following an event rather than proactive based on sound information.

Is this just political posturing at its worst? Is this simply our politicians taking advantage of a heated situation and promising to attempt to stop a train that they are not even riding in, much less driving?

Let’s face it: President Obama and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration has already stated that the plan will move forward and the governors lack the necessary power needed to stop it, leading me to lean more towards the view that this is all just a show. If we really wanted to effectively keep potential terrorists out, shouldn’t we be developing comprehensive plans that involve all of the avenues in which they enter our country, rather than one very small one?

Trying to keep out terrorists by attempting to block refugees is like trying to stop the flow of water through the Hoover Dam with a sand pail.

Despite all the arguments for and against, I tend to believe they are all irrelevant disputes and that we are asking ourselves all the wrong questions.

If we look at what refugee relocation is at its core, it is benevolence. The ultimate question is whether or not it is the government’s job to distribute benevolence on our behalf.

We have forgotten that before 1946 and the Corporate Affidavit Program, volunteer organizations were responsible for refugees. After the precedent was set and government dollars became involved, the government efforts continued to grow (as all things government tend to do) and eventually we found ourselves with an entire new department and coordinator.

I tend to side with the thinking of James Madison. In 1794, when faced with the appropriation of funds for the purpose of helping French refugees, he stated, “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

How far we have strayed from that mentality.

As we face a national debt of 18 trillion dollars and a government that continues to grow in both size and cost, it is time to stop reacting to emotionally charged situations. Instead, lets make it an opportunity to have conversations about the underlying issues and work towards being proactive in the future.

Katherine DeCoito

Katherine DeCoito

Katherine DeCoito is a wife and mother of four, and was a candidate for State Senate in the 2015 GOP primary. She is an active member of the community and lifelong Gulf Coast resident. She and husband David are small business owners in Gulfport, MS.
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