Gov. Hogan, we are better than what you purport us to be

The governor’s position on Syrian refugees is an affront to Marylanders.

Photo credit: UNHCR, via www.whitehouse.gov
Photo credit: UNHCR, via www.whitehouse.gov

By Hamza Khan

No words can begin to describe the dismay and outrage many Marylanders feel following the recent announcement that Gov. Larry Hogan is requesting the federal government to cease settling Syrian refugees in the great state of Maryland.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama’s administration held a conference call with concerned governors across the country to go over in depth the extensive and stringent background checks refugees are subjected to before being granted asylum in the United States of America.

Since then, Hogan has not retracted his position, further cementing the belief among many of our state’s New American and minority leaders that the governor is playing fast and loose with racial politics in a time of international grieving following the recent terror attacks in Paris by the Islamic State, or Daesh.

Since the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, the United States has resettled nearly 700,000 refugees from the Middle East and Central and South Asia — 70 times the number of refugees our federal government aims to settle on American soil. Yet none has carried out a terror attack on our soil. Indeed, the most egregious examples of domestic terrorism in our land continue to be carried out by extremists driven by strong anti-immigrant and anti-religious freedom sentiments. In other words, Gov. Hogan’s fear of Syrian refugees is irrational, based on the facts.

Maryland is home to some of the most diverse cities in the United States, including the first and second-most diverse cities: Gaithersburg and Germantown, in Montgomery County.  Across our state, Middle Eastern immigrants play a major role in our economy, our healthcare systems, and our public safety.

The suggestion that somehow those seeking to be a part of the beautiful tapestry of multi-ethnic and culturally pluralistic harmony we have created here in Maryland is morally bankrupt. I urge Gov. Hogan to retract his statement.

I understand that the governor’s lack of sympathy for Syria’s tired, hungry masses yearning for freedom might indeed be what Hogan considers to be sound leadership for Maryland. I urge Gov. Hogan to lead through compassion, and not race-baiting.

Maryland was founded as a refuge for those seeking religious freedom in the 1600s from persecution in Europe and Great Britain. Today, the people of Syria seek the same asylum upon the shores of the Chesapeake. We Marylanders are a moral people, and our morality preaches that we will not be afraid to offer all who seek shelter from the storms across the Atlantic safe harbor here in our state.

Hamza Khan is a former candidate for Maryland state delegate, and president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County. Follow him on Twitter @HamzaSKhan and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/hamzapolitics

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