VA Mayor Uses Japanese Internment To Defend Blocking Refugee Assistance

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November 18, 2015 3:31 p.m.
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While some opponents to settling refugees in the United States are distancing themselves from the comparison to World War II Japanese internment camps, at least one person is embracing it.

Roanoke, Virginia, Mayor David A. Bowers used President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to “sequester” Japanese Americans to justify his decision to cut off assistance to Syrian refugees.

“I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis [sic] now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then,” Bowers, a Democrat, said in a statement released Wednesday, according to The Roanoke Times.

The statement requests that “all Roanoke Valley governments and non-governmental agencies suspend and delay and further Syrian refugee assistance.”

Since Friday’s Paris attacks, some lawmakers at the national, state and local level have come out against President Obama’s plans to settle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. in the next fiscal year. So far, however, the Paris attackers that have been identified have all been European Union nationals and the Syrian passport found on one of the attackers is a suspected forgery.

Update: Bowers is also a public backer of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. He joined the campaign’s Virginia Leadership Council in early October, The Roanoke Times reported, and her campaign touted his endorsement in a press release later that month.

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