The New York Times writes that Syria’s civil war is “creating the worst global refugee crisis in decades,” and since the nations adjacent to Syria are already struggling to deal with some four million refugees, the United Nations wants the United States and other Western nations to take in 130,000 Syrians over the next two years.
Commitments have already been made by the West to shelter an enormous number of refugees. The U.S. has already given shelter to 700 Syrian refugees over the past four years, with a surge of two thousand more due by fall 2015. “Governments around the world have promised to take in just under two-thirds of what the United Nations is urging, while a great many more Syrians have chosen to make perilous journeys by land and sea in search of asylum in Europe,” writes the Times.
These do not appear to be meant to be temporary visits. “The American decision to accept more refugees reflects how swiftly the Syrian war has morphed into the most pressing humanitarian crisis in recent years,” says the NYT. “Generally, resettling large numbers of refugees happens long after other options are exhausted, like the possibility of displaced people eventually returning home.”
The demand is to give more-or-less permanent homes to thousands—perhaps soon tens of thousands—of people from a war-torn land riddled with Islamist terror groups, plus a brutal dictator supported by the world’s pre-eminent state sponsor of terrorism, Iran. As usual, only Republicans seem to care about the security implications of sweeping in these long-term guests.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) of the House Homeland Security Committee worried that “our intelligence on the ground is alarmingly slim” in Syria,”making it harder to identify extremists. As we have heard from intelligence officials, we do not have enough information to confidently screen these individuals. We need to put our foot on the brakes until we have more certainty that terrorists won’t slip through our fingers.”
The State Department claims Syrian refugees are “the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the United States,” although Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw followed up stating: “Accepting refugees is an American tradition with bipartisan support in Congress. The question is not whether we take them in, but ensuring that we admit refugees in a way that is safe and consistent with our national security interests.”
No, Mr. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, the first question is whether we take them in. The people of the United States are governed through their elected representatives, not U.N. bureaucrats. We are not obligated to risk national security because the United Nations tells us to.
Even the Administration seems doubtful of its claims that Syrian resettlement is a risk-free enterprise, as the NYT article notes the 2,000 Syrians due this year appear to have strained the vetting process to the limit, especially since the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon has brought refugee interviews there to a halt. Activists want us to take sixty-five thousand more Syrians over the next two years, fully half the population that the U.N. is talking about shipping to the West. We can’t possibly do that with anything resembling current security precautions in place.
There’s no doubt Syria is a humanitarian calamity. It is now the largest source of asylum seekers, according to the United Nations. There have been desperate, perilous refugee voyages across the Mediterranean into Europe, and large-scale human smuggling operations. Everyone involved in dealing with the problem seems to agree Syria has strained every aspect of the international refugee system to the breaking point… so now, as has happened so many times before, nations that give America endless amounts of grief will expect us to fix everything.
Meanwhile, the man who blew off ISIS as an irrelevant junior varsity team, and said al-Qaeda was “decimated and on the run,” will take no share of the blame for the Syria crisis. The woman who hailed Bashar Assad as a “reformer” is running to replace him.
Perhaps America will choose to shelter this large number of refugees. Or perhaps our new Partners-in-Peace, Bashar Assad’s good friends in Iran, should step up and take them. Since they’re busy shredding Obama’s goofy Lausanne “agreement,” let’s start over and make caring for Syrian refugees a condition of sanctions relief. Let Tehran know we’ll be checking up on the refugees to make sure they’re well-cared-for.