UMD students: 'Don't give in to racist fear, refugees are welcome here'

Students at the University of Maryland, College Park called Gov. Larry Hogan a racist during a Syrian refugee rally last week.

"Don't give in to racist fear, refugees are welcome here," the crowd of students chanted, referring to Gov. Hogan’s decision to delay Syrian refugees from coming to Maryland. The students say the decision is not representative of the students or the state of Maryland.

"We are all here to show we will have no part in the racism and Islamophobia that's plaguing this country," college student Miranda Mlilo told the crowd. "The real issue here is fear, but we cannot allow ourselves to be so blindsided by our fear that we can't see we share a common enemy, but something more important than that, a connection as human beings."

When asked about her views on national security, Mlilo acknowledged to Campus Reform that while it is an important issue, she thinks politicians are using it as an excuse to deny refugee access to the freedoms she says they are entitled to.

“I think that national security is a very important issue, but sometimes I feel politicians use the idea of national security to instill fear into people in order to promote their own agenda,” Mlilo told Campus Reform. “I think it’s the responsibility of all Americans and politicians to understand the situation Syrians are coming from is extremely dire; they’re escaping from terrorism, just like we are afraid of terrorism, and it’s their [the U.S. government’s] responsibility to open our doors so they [the Syrians] can come and make a better life for themselves because we are not the only ones entitled to certain freedoms—every person is entitled to these freedoms.”

Mlilo told Campus Reform Hogan’s decision to delay admittance of refugees was a decision made out of ignorance and fear.

“If he actually look at the facts, he would see that there is no national security threat to allowing Syrian refugees to come into this country,” she said.

Mlilo doubled down on that statement, asserting that the vetting process for incoming refugees is secure and thorough.

“All of the refugees would come through extreme advance screenings to ensure that they are not terrorists, and that they’re just people actually leaving the country that’s under oppression,” she told Campus Reform.

When pressed on the threat that ISIS could potentially exploit the refugee crisis to sneak militants into the country, Milo merely shrugged off the concern and referred once again to the screening process.

“Again, there is no evidence any Syrian refugees are responsible for any terrorist attacks,” she stated. “I believe that if there was evidence to be found, then those refugees would have never have actually entered the country because of the advanced screening processes.”

Mlilo’s reliance on the vetting process, however, contradicts the assessment of former FBI assistant Jim Kallstrom, who told Fox News recently that some of the individuals residing in the camps set up for Syrian refugees are not refugees at all, but rather ISIS members from the Middle East looking to blend in.

“There are no databases; there are no records to check in Syria,” Kallstrom told Fox News. “You can’t go back and look up stuff—birthday certificates and all that stuff— you can buy phony ID[s] anywhere in the world for $150 bucks.”

Later in the demonstration, following up on Mlilo’s speech, professor Zein El-Amine made disparaging comments toward Republican governors, presidential candidates, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying "they do not care about reality."

“So you have right now Paul Ryan tweeting, bragging about the fact that they clinched the vote to stop the flow of Syrian refugees,” El-Amine told protesters. “They think they’re acting like we’re in the 20th century as if they own the media, but they don’t know we own the media now and we can expose them.”

“The fact that this is all coming from—all this hatred and xenophobia based upon political opportunism, based on the fact that a couple of Syrian passports were found on the side,” El-Amine said, continuing his criticism of conservatives.

The professor then theorized that the passports were planted to give a false impression, and that ISIS wanted to ruin the refugees’ credibility.

“I am going suicide bombing, don’t forget your passport,” the professor intoned mockingly, speculating on the thought process of such an orderly terrorist.

“The Syrian passports were found to be fake,” he continued in his own voice. “They want a clash of civilization … their (ISIS) desires matched the desires of Paul Ryan right now, which is to stop Syrian refugees; to create a kind of desperation that’s fertile ground for their recruitment.”

UMD student, Aiyah Sibay, gave the concluding presentation, taking the opportunity to point out similarities between puritans fleeing England and Syrian refugees escaping their homeland, claiming both groups were composed of refugees, though she explicitly refused to define the term.

“The whole United States is a country of refugees; people who recently came here in the 1700’s are refugees from Europe,” Sibay explained. “We don’t have to keep on justifying the reasons why we need to bring people over to this country when it’s so obvious.”

Sibay then told the protesters that their efficacy does not end once the refugees enter the country. Rather, she told them, they must continue to protest because otherwise the government and American society might marginalize the refugees as terrorists.

“A lot of the times what’s happening is, when you talk about refugees becoming potential terrorists, it’s all a product of how the government—how the society—treats these refugees coming’s about how we are going to treat them when they come into this country.”

At the end of the rally, Homa Hajarian, an English major at UMD, relayed Gov. Hogan’s office phone number and demanded fellow students to call him to voice their opinions on his decision to delay the refugee resettlement.

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