The latest celebrity to offer words of support to refugees is Angelina Jolie. The actress and filmmaker just wrote an opinion essay for The New York Times about the refugee crisis that has recently become amplified in the United States. In the piece, she explains why it is important to focus on the facts when governing refugees, plenty of which she provides. And while Angelina Jolie’s essay never mentions President Donald Trump by name, she is likely indirectly responding to the travel ban he enacted last week, which prevented refugees and citizens from seven majority Muslim nations from entering the United States.
“Refugees are men, women and children caught in the fury of war, or the cross hairs of persecution. Far from being terrorists, they are often the victims of terrorism themselves,” Jolie writes in her opening line.
She goes on to explain how negatively treating refugees is un-American. “I’m proud of our country’s history of giving shelter to the most vulnerable people. Americans have shed blood to defend the idea that human rights transcend culture, geography, ethnicity and religion. The decision to suspend the resettlement of refugees to the United States and deny entry to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with shock by our friends around the world precisely because of this record,” she writes.
On top of being a special envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Jolie is connected to this cause in a very personal way — through her children.
“As the mother of six children, who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens, I very much want our country to be safe for them, and all our nation’s children. But I also want to know that refugee children who qualify for asylum will always have a chance to plead their case to a compassionate America. And that we can manage our security without writing off citizens of entire countries — even babies — as unsafe to visit our country by virtue of geography or religion,” she says.
Jolie then delves into more important facts. She explains the in-depth screening process people seeking refuge in America face. She explains that the those up for relocation are typically the most vulnerable. She says there are over 65 million displaced refugees on Earth, and that less than one percent of all of them are ever resettled into other countries (the U.S. included).
She then sums up what all these sobering facts mean. “If we send a message that it is acceptable to close the door to refugees, or to discriminate among them on the basis of religion, we are playing with fire. We are lighting a fuse that will burn across continents, inviting the very instability we seek to protect ourselves against,” Jolie wrote.
“We all want to keep our country safe. So we must look to the sources of the terrorist threat — to the conflicts that give space and oxygen to groups like the Islamic State, and the despair and lawlessness on which they feed. We have to make common cause with people of all faiths and backgrounds fighting the same threat and seeking the same security. This is where I would hope any president of our great nation would lead on behalf of all Americans,” she concludes.
While Jolie’s essay is filled with grievous information, she keeps a strong focus on our nation’s great history of defending human rights, and ultimately believes we can be more inclusive while seeking national security.
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