NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has weighed in on the divisive question of what to do about Syrian refugees.
Cuomo said Friday that New York welcomes immigrants, a stance opposite of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who made headlines earlier this week for saying his state would not accept Syrian refugees.
“If the day comes when America says ‘close the gates, build the wall,’ then I say take down the Statue of Liberty, because we’ve gone to a different place,” Cuomo wrote on Facebook. His message reads:
The poem on the Statue of Liberty reads, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ On the day this is no longer true, we will have lost sight of who we are.
I won’t let the reactionaries win by conceding the defeat of the American Dream. I have a question for the Governors who say they will refuse to let the refugees in: How? Where does it say in your state’s constitution that you can refuse a person placed by the Federal Government? What are you going to do, have your militia stand on the borders of your state? It’s up to the Federal Government. If they let refugees in and place them in your state, Governors have no authority to turn them down.
Having said that, this is a complex issue. We have to protect Americans. The Federal Government has to screen the people who are coming in. They have to do it right, do it exhaustively, but do so without giving up our soul as Americans. The next time the Republican candidates take to a podium, they’re going to try and confuse the issue, talk about how immigrants are the problem, to use this as a justification to make us afraid of them, and to further divide us.
That’s not how we think in New York. Here in New York, we aren’t afraid of our immigrants, we celebrate them. As I’ve said many times before, in New York our diversity is our strength. The Statue of Liberty is still in the harbor, and the doors are open.
Christie and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio got into a war of words this week regarding Syrian refugees.
On Tuesday, Christie sent a letter to President Barack Obama saying his state will not accept any refugees from Syria after the Paris attacks, saying in part: “Neither you nor any federal official can guarantee that Syrian refugees will not be part of any terroristic activity. As such, opening our door to them irresponsibly exposes our fellow Americans to unacceptable peril. I cannot allow New Jersey to participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being placed in our state,” Christie wrote.
De Blasio blasted Christie’s comments on Thursday and said he was “angered and disgusted” by them.
“And we are sitting here in the city that has the Statue of Liberty in it. That is the epitome of welcoming immigrants over generations,” de Blasio said. “This is a nation of immigrants. So I find it absolutely hypocritical for anyone to say, ‘Let us shut our borders to people who are victims of violence’ — the innocent people who are fleeing a humanitarian crisis,” de Blasio said. “That is un-American.”
Christie responded to de Blasio and tweeted he wouldn’t wouldn’t expect anything less from a liberal politician who is more interested in making headlines than protecting the people.
The Syrian-refugee debate has heated up following the terror attacks in Paris last Friday that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the carnage, elevating fears of attacks in the U.S. and prompting calls for new restrictions on refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.
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