In an interview with OneNewsNow, Ira Mehlman, a spokesperson for the anti-immigrant organization Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), attacked humane refugee resettlement programs, arguing that Muslim refugees pose a security threat to the U.S.
The U.S. State Department is currently reviewing thousands of applications from Syrian refugees who have fled the war in their country.
In accordance with FAIR’s nativist agenda, Mehlman told OneNewsNow that “problems have already been created by refugees from Islamic countries.”
“We’ve seen it among the Somalis. We see it in Western Europe among some of the immigrant communities from the Middle East,” he added.
Mehlman did acknowledge that not every refugee is a problem, giving FAIR some cover. “But the track record shows,” he said, “that among the people who are being brought in, there is a potential for that – and that the United States, like every other country, has an obligation to protect the security of this country.”
Mehlman’s anti-refugee rhetoric is par for the course for FAIR, which continues to be one of the main anti-immigrant forces in the U.S. working to derail legislative relief for immigrants — and refugees alike.
FAIR appears to be borrowing some talking points from the organized Islamophobia movement.
Groups and individuals leading America’s anti-Muslim movement regularly use Europe’s immigration experience to spin a dystopian narrative that the continent is being taken over by Shariah law, and that this is the future of the U.S. if we continue to admit Muslim immigrants and refugees. In fact, Imagine 2050 has previously highlighted the similarities between FAIR’s platform and that of Geert Wilders, a Dutch parliamentarian known for his staunch anti-immigrant agenda and disdain for Muslims.
However, FAIR isn’t only one in the anti-immigrant movement stoking fear of Muslim refugees. Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA – FAIR’s sister organization – recently joined notorious anti-Muslim conspiracist Frank Gaffney on his radio show to spread misinformation about ISIS using refugee programs to smuggle terrorists in the U.S.
Mehlman touched on this talking point with OneNewsNow, saying the U.S. needs to be “cautious and not simply say large numbers of people are going to be allowed in without a proper vetting process.”
However, leading refugee advocates and officials have assured the public that strict vetting processes are in place. The U.S.’s stringent application process is one of the reasons why only a small number of Syrians have been admitted, compared to the thousands of Syrian refugees taken in by Jordan, Germany, and Sweden.
It’s clear that FAIR’s attitude toward refugees is just an extension of its anti-immigrant agenda.