Filmmaker Michael Moore has revealed his intention to open his Michigan home to refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria as part of a strongly-worded rebuke aimed at Governor Rick Snyder, who publicly stated he would turn away refugees in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
Moore made the announcement in a post on his Facebook page, in which he asserted he would contact the State Department and inform them that he is willing to house any Syrian refugee couple who have been vetted by the Obama Administration. Moore also voiced his “full faith and trust” in the government’s screening procedures for Syrian refugees. The filmmaker went on to call Snyder’s refusal to allow refugees into Michigan unconstitutional, pointing out that only the president and the State Department possess the authority to govern these matters under the Refugee Act, as the Washington Post noted.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 21, 2015
Moore also highlighted the United States’ history as a nation of immigrants, while calling Snyder’s behavior “anti-American,” as well “as heartless and un-Christian.” He concluded his missive by encouraging other Americans to follow his example, saying he “looks forward” to welcoming Syrian refugees into his home, which is located in Traverse City, Michigan, according to Yahoo News.
— Jenna Abrams (@Jenn_Abrams) November 21, 2015
The open letter comes amid a backlash in the United States focused on refugees from Syria in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. One of the individuals involved in the attacks (which claimed the lives of 130 people) was carrying a fake Syrian passport, which raised fears that one or more of the gunmen may have entered Europe among the refugees fleeing the country’s ongoing civil war.
As the Latin Post points out, however, security experts have also suggested that the passport was meant to be found, in a bid to stoke western fears over refugees. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere asserted the possibility of just such a scenario on Wednesday, saying that the passport represented a trail that could have been “intentionally laid.” A former analyst for Quilliam, a counter-terrorism think tank which operates out of London, asserted a similar belief on Twitter.
Why would a jihadist who expressly rejects all notions of modern citizenship take his passport on a suicide mission? So it gets found.
— Charlie Winter (@charliewinter) November 15, 2015
More than two dozen governors, predominantly from the Republican party, have since asserted their intention to turn away Syrian refugees from their states. Their power to do so is limited, however, and critics have pointed out that any refugees entering the country undergo the vetting process which Moore referred to in his writing. This screening process, which is extensive and can last for several years, is intended to check for terrorism and national security risks prior to the formal admission of any refugees.
While the law regarding refugee resettlement is clear, placing authority firmly in the hands of the executive branch — thereby recognizing the link between refugee issues and foreign policy — but the politics of the Syrian crisis are more complex. While the governors who have vocally declared their opposition to accepting refugees may lack authority, they have nonetheless forced the White House into a position of either directly confronting them or modifying its policy. While such a choice may avoid short-term conflict, it could also set a dangerous precedent, as the Washington Post points out, challenging federal control of refugee policy.
— Variety (@Variety) November 21, 2015
Michael Moore, who is best known for directing documentaries such as Bowling For Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, is a native of Michigan. His most recent film, Where To Invade Next, is scheduled for release in New York and Los Angeles shortly before Christmas, prior to a nationwide release in mid-January.
Governor Snyder has yet to release any statement responding to Michael Moore’s open letter.
[Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images For AFI]