Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson on Tuesday said, “Openness and tolerance are our strongest forces.”
In addressing a group of U.S. governors, Branson pled with some of the country’s leaders to allow Syrian refugees into their states’ borders.
A group of governor’s had said days earlier that they would deny Syrian refugees following the attacks in Paris and the revelation that one of the attackers may have entered Europe along with many Syrian refugees fleeing their country.
“I understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens from violence and terror,” Branson wrote on the Virgin website. “But to impose collective punishment on tens of thousands in their moment of greatest despair, in false hope it might stop a determined few, may well be counterproductive. And it is profoundly inhumane.”
He went on to compare the anti-refugee response to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Branson went on to note that some governors including Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, are “themselves children of refugees.”
“[W]elcoming the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, and the despondent with open arms has been one of the most enduring and positive chapters of the American narrative; and it has helped the country move from strength to strength — culturally, politically, and economically,” Branson wrote.
He also spoke out against a flawed “faith-based immigration policy,” which some lawmakers have proposed.
“Closing the gates… will engender precisely the types of divisions that terror groups like ISIS seek to exploit,” he wrote. “The more we segregate, pigeonhole and label, the more they gain, as it reinforces their twisted worldview and strengthens recruitment into their ranks.”
Branson at the end of his open letter said there needs to be “understanding, kindness and love” for the “wonderful people” who are fleeing Syria in pursuit of a better life.
“Syria may be today’s heart of darkness, but its wonderful people have the same dreams, goals and aspirations as most of us,” Branson added.