We applaud Missouri Gov. Mike Parson for his decision to keep the doors open for legal refugee settlement in Missouri.
The Show Me State has long been the Show Them State — showing compassion to refugees from war-ravaged regions of the world. Decades ago, after the fall of Saigon, Carthage accepted South Vietnamese refugees who not only have made a home there but have become a vital part of the community.
In a letter Tuesday, addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Parson wrote, "Missouri has a long and rich history of immigration, dating back to America’s earliest explorers, fur traders and missionaries. Today, Missouri’s population includes thousands of refugees who have become vital members of our communities. Since 2002, nearly 18,000 refugees from 45 countries have settled in Missouri."
Saying it was the policy of the United States to consult with states and local governments in resettling refugees, President Donald Trump last fall issued an executive order that gave governors and local communities the right to refuse to accept refugees.
The executive order argued, "State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available to devote to sustainable resettlement, which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance."
One of the fears with refugee resettlement has been terrorists finding a home in the United States, and the risk should be taken seriously given the times and the fact that there have been isolated incidents elsewhere involving refugees linked to terror plots and activities.
But it's important to keep a few things in mind:
• Nearly 80 percent of the refugees who came to the U.S. this last fiscal year are members of the Christian faith. The make-up of refugees admitted varies based on global circumstances and U.S. policies, but from Oct. 1, 2001, to Sept. 30, 2019, more than 60 percent of refugees admitted have identified as Christian.
• Last year, the Democratic Republic of Congo accounted for the most refugees, followed by Burma; Since Oct 1, 2001, the country that has sent most refugees to the U.S. is Burma.
• Studies find that refugees, whatever their faith, whatever their country of origin, are more likely to be victims of attacks or crimes, including hate crimes, by Americans, than they are to commit crimes or attacks.
Parson, in his letter, said, "In Missouri, state organizations and faith-based groups work tirelessly to support refugee resettlement. Currently, there are five agencies that integrate refugee resettlement in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield, where they have helped strengthen local economies, especially through entrepreneurship."
He noted these groups work to make sure refugees are educated, trained and assimilated.
Parson's decision reflects Missouri's best values. The governor made the right call.