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Press ReleaseVirginia

Outrage over Mayor Bower’s xenophobic comments

By November 19, 2015January 15th, 2016No Comments

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Monica Sarmiento (VACIR),
Emily Kessel (NAKASEC),


RICHMOND, VIRGINIA — Immigrant rights organizations in Virginia condemn Mayor David Bowers for issuing the following statement: “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 now is just as real and serious as the threat from our enemies then,” as a justification for refusing Syrian refugees into their city.

The internment of Japanese people in camps during World War II remains controversial and is considered among some of the most disgraceful acts committed by the U.S. Government.

Emily Kessel, Advocacy Director for The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, said “The executive order that imprisoned over 100,000 Americans for no other reason than being Japanese is a dark period in our history. We know that those Japanese Americans were unjustly treated due to racial bias. We as Virginians and Americans have learned from our mistakes and it is our obligation to help those we can help. Syrian refugees are in need of our assistance, and have done nothing to deserve such disrespectful and hateful remarks. NAKASEC says shame on Mayor Bowers! He does not speak for those of us who welcome Syrian refugees.”

Charles Swadley, Interim Executive Director for the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said “Matthew 25: 35 in the Bible states, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The Syrian refugees are being faced with hardships most of us have never known. Those who are most in need should be shown the generous kindness that reflects the divine grace of God. Sometimes it is difficult to do the right thing, but we still must do it. Today French President Francois Hollande announced France will move forward and welcome 30,000 Syrian refugees. If it is in Frances heart to understand that we must welcome the stranger, Roanoke can do the same.”