Editorial: A panic attack on Syrian refugees
The violence, oppression and collapse of central authority in Syria have created one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent years, as an estimated 12 million people have fled their homes and 4 million have abandoned the country.
And yet the governors of Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, Alabama and a growing list of other states are now saying, basically, that the U.S. can't risk accepting a single one of these desperate people — apparently because someone with a Syrian passport reportedly was involved in last week's horrific terrorist attacks in Paris.
Never mind that several of the terrorists in Paris appear to have been French nationals, including one who was still at large on Monday. Are the French to be unwelcome on our shores as well?
We don't mean to trivialize the concerns of those who oppose having the U.S. accept any Syrian refugees. Safety and security must of course be a top priority of any refugee program. But the idea that this nation of more than 300 million people can't find a home for 10,000 refugees that the Obama administration has pledged to accept, and do a sufficiently thorough job of screening them, is difficult to accept.
How about starting with families with children?
Gov. John Hickenlooper struck the right note on Monday when he declared, "Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world's most vulnerable can rebuild their lives."
Indeed we can.
The U.S. refugee process is nothing like the seemingly helter-skelter dash for the borders that the world has witnessed in Europe in recent months. Potential refugees desiring to move here apply through the United Nations and are vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center and the FBI Terrorist Screening Center. The process typically takes a year or more.
That's not to say U.S. officials can guarantee that no one dangerous will slip through, as some governors and Washington politicians are demanding. Life will never be risk free and terrorism is a possibility so long as radical Islam remains a potent force. But that reality doesn't mean this nation should discard its historic role as a friend to those fleeing persecution.
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