tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera November 19, 2015 1:00am-1:31am EST
>> our american story is written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight. reality check hard liners on both sides of the syrian refugee debate. istanbul, turkey where millions of refugees have gone in search of a new life. america's reaction to the terror attacks in paris is playing out through an increasingly loud passionate and political debate about syrian refugees fleeing civil war who want to settle in the united states.
that debate is understandable given the facts one of the paris suspects entered the country posing as a syrian migrant. sympathy for refugee should not completely dictate the response to a truly complex set of problems. that's why tonight we want to lay out the facts how refugees from syria are screened before gaining entry to america. these are facts that the obama administration are slow ting journalists. foot dragging has contributed to some of the confusion. syrian refugees go through a vetting process that can take two years or longer before they set foot here. the process usually starts with the united nations high commissioner for refugees determining if someone is a valid refugee. that refugee faces extensive overseas background and security checks as well as interviews involving the state department
and the department of homeland security. a biometric one of a kind system, help weed out criminal past and immigration issues. finally, refugees go through the syrian enhanced review process. but despite all of this governors in these 31 states have compres expressed their unwilling iness to take in syrian refugees. republican house speaker paul ryan intends to bring up a tboil effectivel billto effectively pause the syn refugee program, requiring the fbi and the department of homeland security that he each syrian or iraqi refugee admitto the united states is not a security threat. now in case you think this is just a republican position, new york senator charles schumer a
democrat has also said publicly that a pause in syrian resettlement may need a pause. spoken out against suggestions there should be some preference given to christian syrians over muslims. may be moving in an opposite direction from their moral compass. >> as president my primary position is the security of the american people. even as we accept more syrian refugees, we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous security checks. many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves. that's what they're fleeing. slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. >> but the perception that president obama is emphasizing morality versus security or trying to have it both ways is opening the political door to candidates on both sides of the aisle who are campaigning for his
job. in cleveland, monday tonight, vermont senator bernie sanders accepted in front of thousands of supporters and said now is not the time for fear-mongering. >> during these difficult times as americans we will not succumb to racism. we will not allow ourselves to be divided and succumb to islamophobia. we will not turn our backs on the refugees from syria and afghanistan. >> reporter: last summer as hundreds of thousands of syrian refugees fled the region, international aid groups urged the united states to accept 65,000. the obama administration set a goal flex year of 10,000 after accepting only 2,000 total over the past four years. >> we had the most extensive security vetting we ever had to deal with syrian refugees coming into the united states. >> but the attacks in paris, a
report that one of the suspects might have traveled to france posing as a refugee, might. >> i think is a huge mistake. >> it's not that we don't want to, it's that we can't. because there's no way to background check somebody who's coming from syria. who do you call to do a background check on them? >> even jeb bush believes that only certain kinds of syrians should be let in. >> i think our focus should be on the christians who have no place in syria anymore. they are being beheaded, executed by both sides. >> for entire republican field. >> is this a troaj an trojan horse? >> 71% of republican voters were very concerned about the rise of islamic extremism, compared to 45% of democratic voters. but now there have been four
straight days of intense media coverage from paris. republican candidates senators rand paul and ted cruz both say they intend to introduce legislation blocking the administration's refugee policy. >> president obama and hillary clinton's proposal to bring tens of thousands of syrian muslim refugees to america i think is absolute lunacy. >> even hillary clinton perhaps mindful of her potential general election candidacy next year has stayed relatively quiet on this issue. at the last democratic debate when asked she focused on the security of americans not the plight of show of thousands of . >> should go to 65 only if we have as carefully screening and vetting process as we can imagine whatever resources it takes. >> martin o'malley believes the proper screening is already in place and he spoke about america's moral obligation. >> but accommodating 65,000
refugees in our country today, people of 320 million is akin to make room of six and a half more people in a baseball stadium of 32,000. >> all this comes with full throated support of syrian refugees coming to the united states, democrats o'malley and sanders stand alone. >> we will do what we do best and that is being americans fighting racism, fighting seen owfighting xenophobia and fight be fear. >> 31 hav governors have statedy do not want their state to take syrian refugees. as we have seen this week governors can still influence constituents and put enormous pressure on the white house. joining us is al jazeera political correspondent michael shure. michael, what has happened to enable governors who have
literally no are effect of accepting refugees driving public opinion? >> you talked about how governors can influence constituents and the white house, they can also have influence on the congress. and it's going to be the congress that's going to take up budget bills appropriation bills, they are the ones that have federal control over whether the syrian refugee plan comes in. what you have is the perfect mix of a big bill coming up an election year a president overseas and a crisis as viewed by these governors. so they can set the ball up for other players to play with. and that's pretty much what's happened here. you have these republican governors and one democrat maggie hassan, running for the senate in new hampshire and she knows that on the surface issues like this play very well with constituents. you set something up you set up an enemy and it works well in a an election year.
>> you and i have talked about how potent fear is as a political force. arguing at least initially about the moral obligation and waiting until last night until administration officials were detailing the screening process for governors, lawmakers on capitol hill and journalists? >> you know that's two different questions and i think they're both good. one is did they make a mistake about playing to the moral high ground there? it's worked for them all along. the syrian refugee idea an question has always been in the past few months an issue that has opened the heart strings of a lot of countries and a lot of people including people here. the second is did they wait too long and clearly they did. can you look at it in the kind of -- you can look at it in the kind of when lyndon johnson, took the high ground and knock 'em down. that's wrong. that's not what the president did here. he probably waited too long to describe it. probably didn't describe it, he was overseas dealing with other issues.
he was at a summit, talked about things that have worked in the past. secretary of state made somewhat of a misstatement, talking about he understood the way charlie hebdo was seemed and this seemed a lot more random. things didn't go very well but the basic argument remains the same from where the president is standing. we have committed to this and none of the people who perpetrated this terror in paris were syrian refugees so this is where he is sitting. >> michael, politics tends to fill a vacuum. and perhaps you have a vacuum in public understanding about the process as we just laid out seems pretty extensive. you wouldn't know it if you are an ordinary american paying attention to the news, gee i wonder if these syrian refugees who arrived in europe today are tomorrow? all of a sudden that enables their elected leaders to say wait a second what's going on here? >> that's a perfect way for this to work out in the public circle. that's how they have to see it work david.
there's something to be said. republican politics has often benefited and to their credit from using fear. you had ronald reagan with the evil empire. you had george w. bush you're either with us or against us. you have two different scenarios, the refugees, they're not here, we're not letting them in, that could be a problem. that could be serious politics, god i wish i was one of them, don't pay as much attention as we do. >> michael shure, good stuff as always, thank you. coming up we are going to talk to a congressman who says the rejection of syrian refugees is exactly the kind of reaction that i.s.i.l. wanted. >> at 9:30 - "america tonight" -
top investigative reporting, uncovering new perspectives. >> everything that's happening here is illegal. >> then at 10:00 - it's "reports from around the world". >> let's take a closer look. >> antonio mora gives you a global view. >> this is a human rights crisis. >> and at 11:00 - "news wrap-up". clear... concise... complete.
>> as the obama administration tries to play catchup in educating congress and the american people about the screening process for syrian refugees some law americas still oppose any pause in admitting the refugees p one of those lawmakers is luis gutierrez, any block of refugees is despicable. congressman you may understand the 18 month screening process, i may understand it, our viewers may understanding it but so many
americans do not. why take time now to educate people before resuming things? >> first of all let's understand something. yesterday the governor of my state did something that i think was cowardly and despicable and that is issue an executive order which he knows has absolutely no enforcement in law whatsoever. as a matter of fact, a syrian family of five resettled in the city of chicago. as have a couple of thousand since the program began in the united states of america. and as most, they were children, they were women and they were the elderly. people who are fleeing violence, in syria, people who are fleeing hunger, people who are fleeing rape and that's what they're fleeing. listen, i understand one thing: that there are those that are going to be fear mongerrers, remember last year ebola, we're going to get it any second, we
had to shut down the borders. remember governor christie and wanting to put everybody. look it's aalways despicable to use fear and irrational fear especially against what an undertone of xenophobia. >> isn't there a difference now -- >> listen -- >> for example to use ebola the administration did a very quick job of trying remind people, here is how you get ebola, here is how you don't get ebola. in this particular case the obama administration waited until last night before educating lawmakers and journalists, there is the process we have, four days after these attacks, four days when a lot of people for fear of xenophobia or whatever, were able to convince the american public there is no screening process. >> look, can you not ask me, to be an apoll gis apology ist or explain to
you or ask why it is or excuse people when they use bigotry, when they use fear and fear mongering instead of good public policy. here are the facts. the fact is that there was a terrible terrorist attack in paris, france. someone from syria traveled had. he didn't go through same program that those that were just resettled in the city of chicago yesterday, those who were settled in the city of chicago yesterday spent over two years in a refugee camp. not being reviewed once but twice but three times, quadruple. we have wonderful american patriots, trained to keep the homeland safe and secure. they are doing, they are checking the screenings and improve on the screening. i want the american people to understand, i understand why there would be fear, i get that part, right? we all understand that. but we have members of our
military, we have members of our intelligence community, we have our soldiers we have our fbi we have our intelligence community, not doing not working full time but double time to keep us safe. and this program is not where the weakness in our system is at. if anything it is part of the strongest. >> congressman i agree with that you're absolutely right. you are absolutely correct, i agree with you, people who look at the screening process agree with you. but the question is doesn't it seem like the democrats are losing this politically in part because republicans are able to fill this vacuum of misunderstanding that the american people may have with some sort of whatever xenophobia that they wanted to use as a political wedge? >> look, here's all can i tell you is that i need to stand on principle. so when i saw it look if i'm going to come to congress to pick the political how would i say popular position to be then i will join those who market in
fear in politics. i wanted to set the record straight and i believe that i have attempted to do that. but here's what i want to say. it isn't that they said there needed to be a pause. if they had come to me and said hey luis, could we reexamine this issue, could we take a influence and fresh look at it? could we may sure we add an extra layer too it? i would welcome that question. we should be first and foremost making america safe. that's not what they said. what one governor after another governor did, exactly what they did not have the power to do was shut down a system. then they said that the terrorists that left syria those same kind of terrorists were coming the america. you know who's coming to america? women with their children fleeing are murdersers, fleeing the assad regime. i've got to think there's got to be somewhere in america room for those women those elderly and
those children. what they said was nub of them could come to the united states of america. >> we pointed out early in the show, what these governors are doing is nonsense, that was all for plit show. thpolitical show. the question is what congress is doing now why not agree what senator schumer has said, maybe it's time for congress to take, as you just said let's take another look at this process. let's make sure it's safe before we resume it. what's wrong with that? that. there are already people who have gone through three and four checks. look, that family that came to chicago yesterday and settled in my city of chicago, i'm so happy that america opened up, that my city my state and my country opened up its heart to them. we should not allow people to, how would i say this? to justify or control our public policy, on the basis of fear. i'm going to say something i
think, you know, i think of the fear that we used and we inter interned the japanese. we regretted it since world war ii. do we want a moment to are regret it today? there are people you know here's i think you should understand, i hope the american people understand another thing. can't you see the real, right now, that i.s.i.s. is preparing as propaganda, one governor after another governor saying we can't trust them, they can't come to this country? >> but all the more reason they have to get members of congress, i agree 100%, no argument on that. but isn't that all the more reason to at least say okay let's cut off the governors, let's at least focus on the republicans in congress, let's work together, have hearings, review the screening process, that way when the process does begin all of congress and the administration are supporting it so that everybody can say this is what the united states stands
for we are confident in this process? >> because let me just say this see, what you're saying is if people use lic lies and deceptin and fear then we must stop good programs that serve people. i say no to deception and lies and fear. i didn't come here with an unwillingness to lose election to the congress of the united states. because if that's what we're going to do then i think we have failed the system miserably. i came here to set good public policy and i will tell you something. i come again you remember last summer we were all going to get ebola, we should shut the borders down. one year later this irrationality, they do the same thing, it's the mexican rapists and murderers at the border. fear mongering, when we let fear determine our public policy, it's not agood day.
america is the beacon of hope. why should we stop a program if women who are being raped and children being sold into slavery are in fear and coming to america? why should i stop that kind of program? nobody in america thinks we should stop that program or even put a halt to it. >> congressman luis the only way to get better is to challenge yourself,
>> we're talking tonight about syrian refugees in the wake of the paris terror attacks. the headlines are focused on terrorists entering paris and the u.s. but millions are centered closer to home. about 2 million refugees can be found in turkey many of whom are chirp. ali spoke with a representative of the agency that helps these ratification. here's the interview. >> do you ask them where they come from or what side of the fight they were in syria? >> we never asks someone who comes here if he is for or against the regime or whether he is from a minority, whether he is british arab or turkmen. we help syrians and muslims, if
there is a need we give to them help but if someone doesn't have a legitimate need, even if he's someone close to us then we turn him away. >> the almost 2 million syrians have come from syria to turkey, many are here in istanbul. you see more and more moving off going to europe. are you noticing the change? >> translator: the number of syrian refugees is in fact more than 2 million. and the number of refugees in istanbul exceeds by many times the official number that is out there. regardless, when aa syrian accommodation to us we find out if he's registered or not. more than 50% of the syrians we receive are not registered. that is because they feel the turkish government will try return them to syria. the real number is much bigger. >> in the united states and in europe politicians are worried
now that the refugees who are coming out of syria maybe even out of turkey and going to europe and going to america there are i.s.i.l. people inside those groups of refugees. there are terrors who are going to the west. do you see any of that here? do you see people who you think are part of i.s.i.l. coming into your clinic? >> translator: of course the western understanding of terrorists is very different from the experience we've encountered with terrorism. the people who have been hurt the most by i.s.i.l, more than people in europe and america are syrians. the syrians are the real ones who have been hurt by i.s.i.l. of course, these accusations are baseless and politicians especially on the west must know that all they're doing is making things worse and promoting the voice of bashar al-assad. i'm not talk going the american government, the governments know
what's going on but we haven't been able to reach others because the media today are politicized. sometimes supporting certain factions. we don't have a voice of our own about what we need is to have our voice heard. everyone should know that syrians today are being attacked with chemical weapons, air strikes and helicopters. we don't want anything from people in the west except for them to put pressure on their governments. we syrians only have one demand, stop the regime's air strikes on the cities. we don't need medicine or anything like that, the only thing we need is a no fly zone and we'll have enough then to remove assad from the seat of power and stop him destroying syria. >> that is our show for today. i'm david schuster. thanks for joining us. the news continues here on al jazeera america. mp
>> the only live national news show at 11:00 eastern. >> we start with breaking news. >> let's take a closer look. >> it is the policy of the united states government to allow refugees fleeing the fighting in syria to resettle in america, but we have a federal system. and a majority of state leaders say that may be your policy, but we don't want them here, not in our state. nearly all of the governors, all of the republicans, are saying that they among the hidden masses e