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The U.S. Has A Very Long History Of Hostility Toward Refugees

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/11/2015 Ariel Edwards-Levy

Friday night's attacks in Paris prompted a number of governors to announce plans to bar Syrian refugees over concerns about terrorism -- statements that echo decades of American hostility toward refugees.

Polls taken since the 1930s show that general suspicion of people fleeing international conflicts is, by now, a well-worn part of U.S. history.

All charts are courtesy of the Roper Center at Cornell University:

In a few cases, Americans have been more welcoming toward refugees. In 1991, for one example, a slim majority of Americans agreed that the country had a special responsibility to provide shelter and care for refugees fleeing Iraq. In 1999, a solid two-thirds supported bringing a small number of ethnic Albanian refugees from Kosovo into the U.S. And as recently as September of this year, some surveys showed that a little more than half of Americans approved of the decision to take in some of the refugees fleeing to Europe -- although others found less enthusiasm.

And at least in principle, Americans have held on to the belief that the U.S. has a special responsibility to take in those in need. Asked in 2011 whether the inscription on the Statue of Liberty -- "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" --  should still apply to immigration policy, more than six in 10 said that it should.

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