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Muslim Congressman On Syrian Refugees: 'We Should Treat People The Same'

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 18/11/2015 Nadya Agrawal

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) defended Syrian refugees Wednesday against lawmakers who say they shouldn't enter the U.S. in the wake of the Paris attacks.

When asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" how to help refugees while keeping Americans safe, Ellison said, "We should not alter who we are and what we do based on what Daesh is trying to do."

Daesh is another term for the Islamic State, or ISIS. The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Friday assault in Paris, which left 129 dead.

"We should bolster our process, we should improve it as we go, but I don’t think we should signal to Daesh or anyone that we’re going to set up a whole new set of rules to vet people who are Muslim. We should treat people the same," Ellison said.

The legislator, who is Muslim, stressed the need to embrace those fleeing the same terrorism America continues to fight abroad. But many other elected officials do not share this sentiment.

While the Obama administration has said it plans on taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next fiscal year, more than half of governors across the U.S. have voiced their opposition to the idea of resettling Syrian refugees within their states. Two of these governors are Republican presidential hopefuls: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

On "Morning Joe," Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg News asked Ellison what he says to his colleagues in Congress who want America to turn away Muslim refugees and only accept Christian ones.

"I say Congress shall make no law establishing a religion nor the free exercise thereof. That is the first clause of the First Amendment. I’m telling you these folks are letting fear make them forget the Constitution, and they shouldn’t do it," Ellison said.

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