Today the House passed a bill that will slow down, if not stop refugees from Syria from being able to be re-settled in the United States. This is in my view a mistake. For one, it doesn’t address the serious issue of the Administration refusing to give governors information as to their plans, and other concerns that some have raised. My main problem with this however is that the refugees aren’t a major source of concern.
The United States isn’t Europe, with regard to bringing in refugees. In Europe they have an unstoppable tide of people entering the continent with no ability to sort through the individuals and determine who has actual need. There are too many coming across, and their system is overwhelmed. We are separated by an ocean, it is difficult to impossible for a person to reach American shores from Syria in a quick and comparatively easy method like in Europe. We are able to pick and choose who comes in, putting humanitarian concerns above all, and accepting the neediest among them. When the decision is ours as to who comes over, the ability to sneak fighters in is significantly diminished.
Our main worry should be European citizens, either natural born or nationalized, as well as American citizens. All but one of the attackers in Paris are believed to be citizens of Belgium or France. The previous ISIS inspired attacks or attempts, and the Al-Qaeda directed Charlie Hebdo murders, were all from citizens of European nations. Citizens of most countries in Europe are able to travel to the United States without securing a visa. The waiver program for them allows them easy access to the United States via normal travel methods. There is little to no ability to keep them out, so long as they are not on watch lists or no-fly lists. ISIS certainly knows this. Why spend a year having a person get vetted for a chance at possibly being accepted as a refugee that can then settle in the United States and only then begin to prepare for an attack when you can send radicalized Europeans to the United States tomorrow? Or better yet, have American citizens carry out an attack. At least 200 Americans have either tried or succeeded in traveling to fight for ISIS. There may be more that we do not know about. There have been ISIS sympathizers in the United States, including two who attempted to carry out an attack in Garland earlier this year.
Refugees are not our main concern. As part of a resettlement program, they will be able to be monitored by the government, and as we are bringing families, are unlikely to be serious threats anyways. Our main concern should be radicalized American and European citizens. This will take serious intelligence work, coupled with travel restrictions on any Europeans known to have fought for ISIS or to be sympathizers. There is serious work to be done on the refugee issue, especially in information sharing and co-operation with governors and local officials. This action by the House distracts from these serious issues, and is doomed to fail as the Senate is unlikely to be able to override a veto. This dooms any attempts at the actual work that would help the refugee resettlement and make our country safer. Do the serious work, and do the right thing and let them in.