Virginia Mayor Says No To Syrian Refugees, Invokes Japanese-American Internment: ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’
Democrats often look back fondly on President Franklin Roosevelt — but here’s one local official who is recalling with admiration exactly the wrong thing about him.
David Bowers, the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia, has released a statement Wednesday calling for an end to any assistance for Syrian refugees in his municipality, The Roanoke Times reports. In his declaration, he points to FDR and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II as a precedent for such action
“I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis [sic] now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.”
Back in 1988, Congress and President Ronald Reagan passed and signed legislation to formally apologize for the forced relocation of Japanese-Americans after the attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, and to issue reparations payments of $20,000 each to those victims who were still living. The payments were sent out soon afterward, during the administration of President George H. W. Bush.
Bowers’s comments run contrary to public statements from Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who is among the minority of governors who has said they will make no attempt to block Syrian refugees in their state.
Bowers assures the good citizens of Roanoke that everything will be done to keep their community safe. He concludes: “In this regard, at least for awhile into the future, it seems to me to be better safe than sorry.”
Bowers has previously announced that he is not running for re-election next year. On his campaign site, he pitches himself as “A Friendly Mayor.”
A call to Bowers for further comment was not immediately returned.
The full text of Bowers’ statement is as follows:
Roanoke is a welcoming city and America is the melting pot of the world, and right and successful we have been at both.
However, since the recent terrorist bombing of the Russian airliner, the attacks in Paris and now with the murderous threats to our nation’s capital, I am convinced that it is presently imprudent to assist in the relocation of Syrian refugees to our part of Virginia.
Thus, today, I’m requesting that all Roanoke Valley governments and non‐governmental agencies suspend and delay any further Syrian refugee assistance until these serious hostilities and atrocities end, or at the very least until regarded as under control by US authorities, and normalcy is restored.
I’m reminded that President Franklin D. Roosevelt felt compelled to sequester Japanese foreign nationals after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and it appears that the threat of harm to America from Isis now is just as real and serious as that from our enemies then.
I further want to assure our citizens that Roanoke’s law enforcement and public safety agencies are and will be prepared to the best of their ability to assure our citizens that everything is and will be done to protect Roanokers from harm and danger from this present scourge upon the earth.
In this regard, at least for awhile into the future, it seems to me to be better safe than sorry.
David A. Bowers
Update: The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign has removed Bowers from its Virginia Leadership Council, of which he had been a member since early October, BuzzFeed reports.
“The internment of people of Japanese descent is a dark cloud on our nation’s history and to suggest that it is anything but a horrible moment in our past is outrageous,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.
Photo: Roanoke, Virginia, Mayor David Bowers (D), via Facebook.