While Republicans are focused on the growing dangers of an ill-secured southern border, some in Washington are warning that the real danger comes to us not from Mexico but rather from places much farther abroad.
“The U.S. has seen the danger of flawed refugee vetting, as well as the potential for refugees to be radicalized once they are in the U.S.,” said Rep. Peter King, the chairman of the Homeland Security Counterterrorism and Intelligence Subcommittee. King was, of course, referring to the brothers Tsarnaev who came here from the former Soviet Union only to carry out a terrorist plot at the Boston Marathon.
The warnings come as international refugee resettlement groups pressure the United States to take in more Syrian citizens. The country has been torn apart by war and its citizens are fleeing both the Islamic State and their own brutal dictator. Millions of refugees have sought shelter in neighboring countries, but the conditions in Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, and Jordan are scarcely better than the ones they left behind. More than 12 million Syrians are living in dire circumstances, says the International Rescue Committee.
In light of all that, it seems unusual that the U.S. has only taken in 968 Syrians since the first of the year. But despite our nation’s reputation for being a light in the darkness, we have our own reasons to hesitate.
“We have been reviewing the current security vetting procedures for a number of months,” said King, “and I have a number of concerns, not the least of which is the lack of on-the-ground intelligence necessary to identify terror links.”
King readily acknowledges that the vast majority of Syrians have no ties or interest in terror, but he claims that we can’t know for sure without the proper resources. The U.S. hopes to bring a total of around 2,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, but King and others are urging caution.
“Terrorists have made it known they want to manipulate the refugee program to sneak operatives to the West,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul in June.
Syria isn’t the only controversial country from which the U.S. accepts refugees. Thousands of foreigners were resettled in 2013, including citizens of Burma, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq.
The majority of Americans almost certainly support lending a hand to these unfortunate people, but only if that support doesn’t bring a terrorist onto our shores. As we’ve seen over the last few years, we have enough to worry about when it comes to lone wolves getting radicalized off the internet. We certainly don’t need to endanger ourselves further by accepting refugees without the proper security screenings in place. State Department officials insist that those screenings are rigorous, but others aren’t so sure.
Fact is, if there is any doubt whatsoever about our government’s ability to separate the peaceful from the evil, we must err on the side of caution. Send money, send supplies, sure. Take in refugees as security permits. But don’t give in to international pressure if it means putting Americans at greater risk.
Seems like common sense, but when it comes to this administration…