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Wednesday’s Craziest Ideas for Dealing With Syrian Refugees: Praise for Japanese Internment Camps and Calls to Bring Out the National Guard

A small town Virginia mayor invokes Japanese internment during World War II to argue against Syrian refugees.

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More than half of the 50 U.S. governors — all but one a member of the GOP — as well as most of the Republican presidential field have come out against President Barack Obama’s plan to resettle some 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. A letter sent Wednesday by the Democratic mayor of a small town in Virginia shows fears about the arrival of those fleeing Syria’s civil war have spread to both parties. And he’s got a doozy of a justification for keeping them out.

In a letter dated Wednesday, David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, said keeping Syrian refugees out of his city is the right thing to do even if his state’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, is welcoming them. The full letter is below, but pay close attention to the 4th paragraph.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.44.56 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.44.56 AM

More than half of the 50 U.S. governors — all but one a member of the GOP — as well as most of the Republican presidential field have come out against President Barack Obama’s plan to resettle some 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. A letter sent Wednesday by the Democratic mayor of a small town in Virginia shows fears about the arrival of those fleeing Syria’s civil war have spread to both parties. And he’s got a doozy of a justification for keeping them out.

In a letter dated Wednesday, David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, said keeping Syrian refugees out of his city is the right thing to do even if his state’s Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, is welcoming them. The full letter is below, but pay close attention to the 4th paragraph.

Screen Shot 2015-08-10 at 11.44.56 AM

That’s right: Bowers invoked then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s mass internment of more than 100,000 Japanese-American citizens during World War II to justify keeping Syrians out of the “Star City of the South,” as Roanoke is known.

Not to be outdone, a top Republican lawmaker in Tennessee, House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada, has a novel idea: Bring in the National Guard.

“We need to activate the Tennessee National Guard and stop them from coming in to the state by whatever means we can,” he said, according to a report in the Tennessean. “I’m not worried about what a bureaucrat in D.C. or an unelected judge thinks. … We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours.'”

If Tennessee wants to go that way, finding Syrians who resettled there shouldn’t be tough. Of the 1,601 refugees who settled in the Volunteer State in fiscal year 2015, only 30 came from Syria.

Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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