First Impression? No Hoosier Hospitality for All

11/19/2015 05:58 pm ET Updated Nov 19, 2016
Migrants and refugees enter a registration camp after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija on November 17, 201
Migrants and refugees enter a registration camp after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija on November 17, 2015. More than 800,000 refugees and migrants have landed in Europe so far this year and more than 3,000 have died while crossing the Mediterranean in search of a new life in the world's largest economy. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Co-written by my immediate family, residing in Indianapolis.

As an immigrant family living in Indiana since 1986, we are perplexed by the recent decision of our own Governor and others across the United States denying the resettlement of Syrian refugees in communities such as ours.

For nearly five years, close to 11 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homeland in droves. First at the hands of their own government and later at the behest of ISIS militants, homes have been flattened, lands rendered untenable, and children flushed out of classrooms. Our native Lebanon--a nation of nearly four million, has become home to 1.5 million refugees simply searching for an escape from death and destruction.

This country was built on on the backs of immigrants. In 2013, it was estimated that more than 41 million immigrants live in the United States, the highest in our nation's history. In this, the land of Lady Liberty, where we've long welcomed 'the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breath free,' to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, or 0.0009% of those who have unwillingly been forced from their homes seems rather underwhelming.

But even this number is giving our society pause. This week, for a Syrian family cleared to immigrate to the United States, their one-way tickets to Indianapolis were abruptly changed upon Governor Pence's decision to halt refugee resettlement in our state. Born out of a claimed desire to ensure 'safety and security for all Hoosiers,' our Governor joined a chorus of his peers in closing our doors to among the world's most desperate.

Fresh from fleeing the unrelenting killing by ISIS, we're telling this family and others en route to Indiana to go find another state in our union that views you as less a safety threat than we do?

What a first impression we've made. Some show of 'Hoosier Hospitality.'

Terror's ammo is fear and our world needs no more of it. Every time a state says 'you're not welcome here,' every time a refugee's resettlement is diverted, another win is notched by the very same radicalism we wish to defeat.

Apparently Indiana is 'a state that works,' but not for all. This is not the Indiana and the America we have come to know and call our own home along with millions of other immigrants. The Indiana and America with which we identify has long opened its arms to populations from the world over, and most importantly, is all the better for it.