By Melissa Spear
On Monday Common Ground posted the following statement to its website in response to several of the Executive Orders recently signed by President Donald Trump:
Common Ground stands firm in its opposition to Donald Trump’s recent executive orders imposing a travel ban on Muslims from select countries, suspending the refugee program, and threatening to withhold Federal funding for law enforcement from sanctuary cities. These executive orders are in direct conflict with the values that define Common Ground and our community. Common Ground stands in solidarity with all those working to promote justice, equity, and inclusiveness by opposing oppression in all its forms. Finally, Common Ground is committed to performing its work with humanity, and with love for all of our community members regardless of where they come from, what religion they practice, or what their immigration status is.
Taking this position with regard to the federal administration’s executive orders is in alignment with one of Common Ground’s fundamental values, expressed in a post-election statement:
Common Ground is committed to truth telling, to combatting misinformation with facts and evidence and real stories.
The evidence does indeed demonstrate that the policies being promoted through these executive orders fly directly in the face of the facts, and have been justified by telling stories that have no basis in truth.
The story being told to justify these executive orders is that refugees and Muslim immigrants are not being properly vetted before entering the United States and therefore pose a significant terrorist threat to our national security. Similarly, the story goes, undocumented immigrants commit a significant number of violent crimes against Americans, and are hurting us economically by “stealing” our jobs and taking free advantage of our education, health care and other government funded systems.
The reality is that these stories, and the policies they are being used to justify, pose a direct threat not only to the refugees and immigrants they directly impact–many of whom are members of our own community–but also to the well-being of our community as a whole.
Here are the facts:
- Refugees are the most intensively vetted of any people who enter the United States, facing an 18-24 month processing period that engages the resources of the FBI, the State Department, the DEA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and Interpol among others.
- According to research by the Cato Institute, not a single refugee “has been implicated in a major fatal terrorist attack since the Refugee Act of 1980 set up systematic procedures for accepting refugees into the United States.” (Cato Institute: Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis)
- The Cato Institute also found that the chance of an American being killed in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion a year, or in other words, vanishingly small. (Cato Institute: Terrorism and Immigration: A Risk Analysis)
- A study by the Migration Policy Institute found that the incarceration rate for foreign born residents (immigrants) is about a quarter of that for US born residents. (Migration Policy InstituteDebunking the Myth of Immigrant Criminality)
- A study performed by the Center for American Progress has demonstrated that sanctuary counties have significantly lower crime rates than non-sanctuary counties. (Center for American Progress:The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy)
- The same study shows that local economies are stronger in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties. Specifically, sanctuary counties enjoy lower unemployment, lower rates of poverty, higher median incomes, and less reliance on public assistance. (Center for American Progress:The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy)
Common Ground, New Haven, and the state of Connecticut each asserts its status as a sanctuary. We are proud to live and work in one of three states in the country that has declared itself a sanctuary. We stand behind New Haven’s commitment to reaffirm its sanctuary status. And we believe that making our 20 acres at the base of West Rock a sanctuary for all people is a critical expression of our mission and values. Given the facts, we are not only doing what is morally right and aligned with bedrock American values by expressing our humanity, we are also acting in our own best interests and in the best interests of our communities.