Actress and activist Angelina Jolie wrote an op ed for the New York Times addressing how a country should approach refugee policy.


Jolie’s motivation was likely to open minds that believe refugees are terrorists or opportunists. She began her piece by defining what a refugee is, saying “far from being terrorists, they are often the victims of terrorism themselves.” She applauds the U.S.’s history of taking in people from other countries and offering them shelter in their time of need, and explains that the current administration’s immigration and refugee ban was so shocking because of this rich history.

“We are already living through the worst refugee crisis since World War II,” she writes. “The global refugee crisis and the threat from terrorism make it entirely justifiable that we consider how best to secure our borders. Every government must balance the needs of its citizens with its international responsibilities. But our response must be measured and should be based on facts, not fear.”

Jolie takes the time to explain some of the process already in place to vet refugees in this country: “Only the most vulnerable people are put forward for resettlement in the first place: survivors of torture, and women and children at risk or who might not survive without urgent, specialized medical assistance… In fact, only a minuscule fraction – less than 1 percent – of all refugees in the world are ever resettled in the United States or any other country…


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“The truth is that even if the numbers of refugees we take in are small, and we do the bare minimum, we do it to uphold the United Nations conventions and standards we fought so hard to build after World War II, for the sake of our own security.”

Jolie ends her essay identifying the dangers of treating refugees as undeserving. “If we Americans say that these obligations are no longer important, we risk a free-for-all in which even more refugees are denied a home, guaranteeing more instability, hatred and violence,” she says. “If we create a tier of second-class refugees, implying Muslims are less worthy of protection, we fuel extremism abroad, and at home we undermine the ideal of diversity cherished by Democrats and Republicans alike: “America is committed to the world because so much of the world is inside America,” in the words of Ronald Reagan. If we divide people beyond our borders, we divide ourselves.

“Shutting our door to refugees or discriminating among them is not our way, and does not make us safer. Acting out of fear is not our way. Targeting the weakest does not show strength.”

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