Legislators continue to stoke anti-immigrant feeling in Arkansas.

Sen. Trent Garner is now touting an interim committee meeting Jan. 13 at which Gov. Asa Hutchinson is on the agenda for deciding that Arkansas will not avail itself of a privilege extended by Donald Trump and NOT opt out of a resettlement program in which legal refugees who’ve cleared an extensive U.S. vetting process are welcomed by religious and other good samaritan groups to establish homes in our country.

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Garner had earlier chosen Christmas week to demagogue the issue by listing supposed “hard” questions that need to be answered. They’ve been answered during the many years Arkansans have participated in this extremely limited program. We’ve provided a haven for persecution for a handful of people, mostly Christians, fleeing unspeakable difficulties. The cost in dollars to taxpayers is negligible. The value to the persecuted is incalculable.

I’ve noted before the coincidence of resistance to even legal immigrants from conservative legislators who often boast of “family values” and their religious beliefs. Funny, though, how often they use their religion as a weapon — for discrimination against women in medical services and the law generally (no ERA for them!), for discrimination against sexual minorities and for discrimination against different faiths.

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Garner earlier offered “thoughts and prayers” for the refugees, but seemed reluctant to provide even a lowly cattle shed for them to lay their heads in Arkansas.

Add Sen. Bob Ballinger to the list of religious types reluctant to offer more than sympathy to the oppressed. Ballinger — defender of the criminal enterprise that was Ecclesia College and dedicated foe of various minorities with whom he has “religious” quarrels — has joined Garner’s dim view of Hutchinson’s decision. He wouldn’t turn away refugees “flippantly,” but only, apparently, after a bit of prayerful consideration.

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The longer Facebook post by Ballinger is a piece of work, if not what I’d be inclined to call Christian witness. Maybe only 70 people will find shelter in Northwest Arkansas, he conceded. Maybe most will be Christians. But you can’t be too careful, says Ballinger as he sheds crocodile tears for those seeking safe harbor in the United States:

I hurt for these people and cannot imagine the difficult situation they are fleeing from and the fear they must be experiencing. As a Christian, I want them to receive the grace, love, and hope of Christ. I want to help them.

 

I totally understand the desire to open our arms to them, that is a reasonable response of a loving people. And, I wish it were as simple as that.

But …… First, he is NOT happy that the governor made an executive decision without running it by him first. Separation of powers? That’s outdated stuff for this legislature. And then:

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Second, there is no way to throughly vet refugees from many of these countries. They do not have the system of records we have and so there is very little that is discoverable in many of their backgrounds.

 

Which leads to my final concern. We live in a dangerous time in a dangerous world. Most of our World enemies are not conventional governments, with conventional armies, who fight conventional wars.

 

We are now dealing with an escalating conflict with the nation of Iran. Iran does not have the Navy or Air Force necessary to strike the US. Their ability to strike us at home is very limited. So how will they hit back?

 

Shortly before we took out the Irani terrorist General Qassem Soleimani, he made a threatening speech attacking President Trump and the United States. In that speech he said: “Mr. gambler Trump! I’m telling you that we are close to you exactly where you wouldn’t think.”

 

I think they are close, I think some of them live here in the United States using our historically lax immigration system to settle (but not assimilate) into our communities.

Don’t get me wrong. Most immigrants of Middle Eastern dissent are good people, working hard, who just want to take care of their families, but if one out of 100, or even one out of 1,000 are radicalized, it poses an imminent threat to our communities.

No kidding. Peril is everywhere. Someone might load a truck with fertilizer and bomb a federal building. Or get a semi-automatic rifle with a big ammo magazine and slaughter elementary kids, gay people in a night club or Jewish worshippers.

I’m thinking that book Garner and Ballinger like to wave around has some words in Luke and Matthew that seem more appropriate in this circumstance than fear-mongering.

So, credit again to the governor for a rare display of moderation, small as it is in context. His Republican colleagues, Ballinger and Garner, make his modest open door policy look very good indeed.

I’ll leave you with how Bro. Ballinger sees himself in his Twitter description::