The Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the RI Council for Muslim Advancement, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island and the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island today issued this open letter to Governor Gina Raimondo, following her comments yesterday that the controversy surrounding the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Rhode Island was “much ado about nothing”:
Dear Governor Raimondo:
As the rhetoric and vitriol surrounding the issue of resettling Syrian refugees in Rhode Island increase, we urge you to demonstrate leadership on this critical humanitarian issue by firmly and publicly denouncing the rising xenophobia we are witnessing.
Yesterday you were quoted as calling it “much ado about nothing,” and saying that you would “take a look at it” if asked by the federal government to help with resettlement. Respectfully, when other public officials in the state are protesting efforts to welcome any Syrian refugees in Rhode Island by holding public rallies and calling for the internment of any refugees that do arrive here, this is anything but a non-issue. Nor is it something to be blithely ignored for now, and only looked at sometime in the indefinite future.
We believe that it is time for you, as Governor of a state that has welcomed immigrants and refugees from its founding, to forcefully affirm the view – in the same manner as some of your Gubernatorial colleagues elsewhere around the country have done – that Rhode Island is prepared to welcome immigrants and refugees fleeing violence from Syria, and that you reject fear-mongering that undermines our state’s strong commitment to non-discrimination against people because of their ethnicity or religious beliefs. To ignore these troubling strains of prejudice is to only give them force.
Rev. Dr. Don Anderson, Executive Minister
Rhode Island State Council of Churches
100 Niantic Avenue, Suite 101
Providence, RI 02907
Imam Farid Ansari
Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement
P.O. Box 40535
Providence, RI 02940
Rabbi Sarah Mack
Board of Rabbis of Greater Rhode Island
70 Orchard Ave.
Providence, RI 02906
Steven Brown, Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island
128 Dorrance Street, Suite 220
Providence, RI 02903