Angelina Jolie says keeping refugees out of the United States “does not make us safer” and could “worsen” the fight against terrorism.
“Shutting our door to refugees or discriminating among them is not our way, and does not make us safer,” the “Maleficent” actress says in an op-ed published Thursday in the New York Times.
“Acting out of fear is not our way. Targeting the weakest does not show strength,” Jolie, who serves as special envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, writes in her editorial.
“The lesson of the years we have spent fighting terrorism since Sept. 11 is that every time we depart from our values we worsen the very problem we are trying to contain,” says the Academy Award winner.
Without mentioning President Trump, Jolie rails against the executive order he signed last week that indefinitely suspends Syrian refugee resettlement, halts the entire refugee program for 120 days, and temporarily bars citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries 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 argues.
She writes that the U.S. allies around the world have been “shocked” by Trump’s order because 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.”
While Jolie says it’s “justifiable to consider how best to secure our borders” because of the threat of terrorism, the response “must be measured and should be based on facts, not fear.”
Jolie says as a mom of six kids “who were all born in foreign lands and are proud American citizens” she wants the country to be safe, but says, “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.”
Contending that refugees are subject “to the highest level of screening of any category of traveler to the United States,” the “Unbroken” director says a closed-door policy could backfire.
“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,” she writes.
“We must never allow our values to become the collateral damage of a search for greater security.”