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Don't Extinguish the Light: Migrants, Crisis and the New Demos

Now is a time to remember our shared humanity.

In light of the terrorist attack in Paris, lawmakers across the country are demanding President Obama shut down our borders and stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in America, stoking widespread fear about these men, women and children. At this moment, twenty-four governors have announced that their states will not accept Syrian refugees.

This comes on the heels of a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruling to prevent the expansion of President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Without these programs, which would allow millions of undocumented immigrants with longstanding ties to the U.S. to remain in the country and work legally, whole communities of inspiring citizens are in constant danger of being torn apart.

This is not what we can and should be.

We understand that there is a widespread and understandable fear about the possibility of terrorist attacks on American soil. And we also understand that there is considerable anxiety among many Americans, particularly white Americans who have been the historical majority in numbers and power, about who we are becoming. But politicians and the courts should reject dog whistles that exploit our racial anxieties.

We urge the Supreme Court to reverse the federal appeals court’s mistaken decision, uphold the precedent of Executive authority over prosecution prioritization, and protect millions of families. And we urge every Governor in the country not to abandon the people that need us most, who are fleeing the violent extremists who sowed terror on the streets of Paris last Friday, but not before their allies made such indiscriminate violence a daily nightmare for the Syrian people.

Turning our backs on Syrian refugees and immigrant families is not only unconscionable, it flies in the face of what makes us special: a nation of many, living side by side. Our new demos is constantly forming, being shaped by events and trends (including, if we are honest, our own foreign policies on war and economics) that send new potential Americans to us. They are seeking a light that we must not extinguish.