NY-22 Minute: New Refugee Rules By Luke Perry
Early posturing is underway in the NY-22 race. Claudia Tenney described Anthony Brindisi as a “slick politician,” seeking to connect him to “corruption,” Governor Cuomo, and “failed” liberals and "cronies" in Albany. Brindisi responded by hoping Tenney “keeps the political sniping to a minimum because name-calling never created a single job in this district and doesn’t help the middle class.”
Tenney signed a Commitment to Civility on February 14, 2017 with 44 other freshman members of Congress. The related press release stated:
“Through the commitment our class makes today, we promise to put people before politics, to thoughtfully advocate for the needs of our communities and to renew confidence and trust in our political system. We will work together peacefully to provide leadership and set an example for the American people, while remembering those who risked their lives and died to protect the freedoms and individual rights that make our nation the greatest in the world,” said Rep. Claudia Tenney. “It is my hope that the efforts made by our class today will inspire people throughout the nation to turn towards civility, to treat each other with respect and to work together constructively to further strengthen and unify our great nation.”
What neither candidate is talking about are new rules just implemented by the Trump administration impacting refugees. These rules allow refugees to enter the country only if they have family or business ties in the United States.
This does not fit with the Department of Homeland Security’s understanding of U.S. law, which defines refugees as people of “special humanitarian concern to the United States” who demonstrate “they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.”
Utica and Binghamton both have a long history of embracing refugees to offset population drain and promote economic redevelopment. An estimated 1 in 4 Utica residents are refugees, while Binghamton City Council unanimously passed a resolution earlier this year welcoming refugees and immigrants.
Congresswoman Tenney was critical of the “hysteria” surrounding Trump’s immigration/refugee executive order. Though Tenney is a supporter of President Trump, this was somewhat surprising from someone who considers herself an advocate of refugees. Trump’s refugee ban, among other things, cuts the cap on refugees from 110,000 to 50,000, significantly impacting cities like Utica and Binghamton. Tenney doesn’t have an office in Utica. Brindisi isn’t pressing her on this or the refugee issue, yet.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.