Holocaust Museum to US: Don’t turn away Syrian refugees

Museum expresses concern over refugee crisis, calls politicians to “not turn” their backs on Syrians fleeing conflict.

Refugees waiting to cross to Macedonia
The DC-based institution called on 'public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today's refugees as a group' [Giannis Papanikos/AP]

The Republican-controlled US Congress is riding a wave of anti-refugee public sentiment following the attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and more than 200 injured.

But one museum in the US that knows a little something about the value of accepting refugees is pushing back.

This week, in response to efforts by American politicians to slow the flow of people coming to the US from Syria, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, issued a statement reminding Americans the US has been down this road before.

“Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis,” the statement read, making a historical comparison to the millions of Jewish citizens trapped in Europe during World War II who were forced to live under a regime that harassed, imprisoned, or killed them.

“While recognising that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.”


Tougher refugee screening 

On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed legislation to make it harder for Syrian refugees to enter the US following reports that one of the Paris attackers may have slipped into France from Syria.

The move comes as 27 Republican state governors urged US President Barack Obama on Friday not to accept any Syrian refugees.

The US government has said it will accept 10,000 Syrians fleeing a civil war in their country that’s been raging for more than four years.

Related: Rights groups slam ‘Islamophobia’ of US candidates

The bill, which is now in the US Senate for debate, would alter current US policy and require three agencies within the US government to sign off on incoming refugees before allowing them in.

The White House has said the new measures, if passed, “would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people”, and Obama will veto them.