CIRC Statement in Support of Refugee and Muslim Communities

February 17, 2016

CIRC members and staff are deeply saddened by the recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, Kenya, Nigeria, and other parts of the world. As we deal with the sadness and repercussions from these acts of violence, CIRC is profoundly disturbed and angered by the alarmist, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim response from dozens of governors across the country wishing to slam the door on future Syrian refugee resettlments in their states. The U.S. House of Representatives vote to pass H.R. 4038, which would essentially ban Syrian refugee resettlement, is yet another attack on immigrant and refugee communities.

At the same time, we are deeply grateful for the leadership of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who immediately pledged to embrace and welcome Syrian refugees in Colorado. We applaud Governor Hickenlooper’s courage and loyalty to the true Colorado values that embrace and welcome refugees. We are equally thankful to Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette and Congressman Ed Perlmutter who voted against H.R. 4038 and stood up to the reckless anti-refugee firestorm in Washington D.C.

Colorado has an established history of successfully and humanely resettling refugees who have fled violence and persecution. The Colorado Refugee Services Program, along with dozens of resettlement agencies, oversee the resettlement process and we fully support and praise their efforts. As a coalition, we uphold the contributions that refugees make and their resolve to build new lives in Colorado, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or country of origin.

As long time Asian Pacific American community leader, Harry Budisidharta, states:

“I came to the United States when I was 12 years old to escape a brutal dictatorship and a country on the verge of collapse. I grew up in America and I consider this country to be my home. I remember how kind the American people were to me as neighbors, teachers, and friends who taught me English and American Culture. This is the America that I know and love. I am forever grateful to this country for opening their arms and providing me with a safe haven. I am deeply troubled by the current wave of anti-immigrant and anti-refugees rhetoric. I don’t understand why there is so much hatred toward our communities. I am proud that Governor John Hickenlooper stood up against the extremist rhetoric and decided to continue supporting the immigrant and refugee communities. I urge all Coloradans to get to know the immigrant and refugee community so that you can see that we are human beings deserving of love, safety, and freedom.”

CIRC members, along with our statewide resettlement agencies and partners, have laid the ground-work to welcome newcomers as part of our nation and state’s legacy of providing refuge to those most vulnerable among us. We we will not tolerate hate, xenophobia, and religious intolerance.

Denver Islamic Society Imam, ShemsAdeen Ben-Masaud, speaking on behalf of the Colorado Imam Council states:

“The Colorado Imam Council (CIC) applauds Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper for welcoming Syrian refugees to Colorado. While we condemn the terrorist atrocities in Paris, we must also not forget that there are still thousands more victims of these same terrorists who are fleeing Syria with their families and are in desperate need of a place to go. Governor Hickenlooper’s commitment to refugee resettlement efforts regardless of race and ethnicity is a refreshing and positive sign that not all lawmakers are vulnerable to the fear-mongering and bigotry that is seen fueling this debate. Trust must be placed in our government’s vetting and security process and we must resist alarmist tendencies and unwarranted speculation, and must hold firm to the values and principles on which America was built.”

Imam ShemsAdeen Ben-Masaud continues, “At times like this while contemplating what to do with regards to the question of ‘refugees’, it behooves us to remember the very poem engraved on our Statue of Liberty that generations of immigrants read as they arrived to start their new lives: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’ ”

During these challenging times, CIRC calls on Colorado communities to stand together in unity and on the right side of history. America has a long and proud history of providing humanitarian relief, safety, and opportunity for people in jeopardy. We invite Coloradans to join our refugee resettlement partners and our Muslim community in solidarity by taking the actions below.

Please call Governor John Hickenlooper, 303-866-2471, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, 303-844-4988, and Congressman Ed Perlmutter, 303-274-7944, and thank them for supporting refugees in a welcoming Colorado.

Please call the following Congressmen to denounce their votes to support anti-refugee legislation and let them know that true Colorado values embrace and welcome refugee families.

Congressman Jared Polis – 303-484-9596
Congressman Scott Tipton – 970-241-2499
Congressman Ken Buck – 202-225-4676
Congressman Doug Lamborn – 719-520-0055
Congressman Mike Coffman – 720-748-7514

If you would like to be part of response team and other efforts, please email nicole@coloradoimmigrant.org to be referred to resettlement agencies and organizations that can help answer your questions.

In solidarity,

Nicole Melaku

Director of Programs
Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalitio