Congresswoman Janice Hahn is getting an earful from her constituents after breaking with the Democratic Party last week and voting to tighten restrictions on Syrian refugees.
“I feel like she's playing politics and it's going to cost people's lives,” said Tom Dorsey, a former member of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, who has known Hahn for decades. “She majorly messed up. I don't know who's advising her, but it broke my heart and a lot of other people's hearts, too.”
Hahn was one of 47 Democrats who joined with Republicans in supporting the SAFE Act. She represents a solidly Democratic district that includes San Pedro, Compton and South Gate.
But she's giving up her seat next year so she can run to succeed Republican Don Knabe on the county Board of Supervisors. Knabe's seat is more conservative than Hahn's congressional district, and Hahn is facing credible Republican challengers.
In a statement, Hahn said she supports increasing the flow of Syrian refugees to the United States. But she said she voted for the bill, which requires extra security certifications, “to assuage fears” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
“I felt like if we can do one more thing to sort of calm the fears of Americans, we would be able to welcome even more refugees to this country in the long term,” she said on KNX NewsRadio.
Many of her constituents blasted her on her Facebook page for “cowardice.”
“Shame on you for promoting hatred and bigotry,” Marilou Jorgenson wrote.
“You will be remembered as a coward,” Kira Gronevelt wrote. “Shame on you. I don't know how you sleep at night!”
Hahn does have a history of breaking with her party. She was among the first Democrats to publicly oppose bombing Syria after chemical weapons were used in the civil war.
In September, after public opinion was galvanized by an image of a dead Syrian boy who washed up on a beach in Turkey, Hahn called for the United States to accept some 100,000 Syrian refugees.*
*Updated at 3:28 p.m. An earlier version of this post stated that Hahn wished to accept 200,000 Syrian refugees. She called for resettlement of 200,000 refugees in total, of which 100,000 would come from Syria.