In the aftermath of the horror last weekend, a lively discussion has broken-out over the United States’s role in sheltering Syrian refugees.
The issue came into focus shortly after the attacks when it was discovered that one of the Paris attackers was carrying a Syrian passport that was used to enter Europe through Greece as a refugee from Syria.
The United States has already taken in 1,800 refugees from Syria over the last few years. And President Obama intends to resettle about 10,000 more in the United States in the coming months. Just yesterday morning, President Obama reaffirmed that commitment and upbraided Senator Ted Cruz (though not by name) for suggesting a religious test for future refugees. The President insisted that our security procedures are sufficient and that the U.S. would go ahead as planned.
After that speech, a majority of the nation’s governors announced that they would not allow any of those 10,000 into their states. And now the issue is front and center before the American people. What are we to think about this?
On the one hand, I am heart-broken about the refugees fleeing persecution in Syria. They are women, children, and families who have undergone horrific abuses at the hands of their own government and at the hands of Isis. Some of them are Christians. They are not all terrorists, and it is unconscionable to imagine turning all of them away. On the other hand, we know that at least one terrorist has used the EU’s refugee program to gain access to France to conduct attacks in Paris. Couldn’t the same thing happen here?
I don’t think this is an easy issue. And I agree with Trevin Wax that we need to have “prudent compassion” as we think about resettling refugees from Syria. But what does that look like in terms of an actual policy? Here’s what I hope we’ll see: