Who’s Acting Crazy About Syrian Refugees?

In a new Washington Free Beacon “super cut” video, FBI Director Jim Comey explains that terrorists have already slipped through during the resettlement of Iraqi refugees. National Intelligence Director James Clapper also says he’s very concerned that ISIS will “infiltrate operatives among these refugees.”

This is exactly the point I made in a previous piece about the refugee crisis in Europe. It’s not that migrants or refugees are terrorists. It’s that terrorists take advantage of a chaotic situation to immigrate with them. When you have a country that is either unable or unwilling to properly vet these individuals, it’s as though their government simply shrugs its shoulders and accepts people based on who they say they are.

We already know that’s dangerous. On Wednesday, Honduran officials apprehended five Syrian men who attempted to illegally enter their country with fake Greek passports. Unsurprisingly, “Konstantinos” and his merry band of would-be infiltrators intended to journey to the U.S. by crossing Guatemala and Mexico before entering America through our southwest border. So on behalf of all of America, I say, “Gracias, Honduras.”

While Europe’s verification system for refugees and migrants is practically non-existent, ours isn’t much better. A Washington Post story from earlier this week outlines the U.S. federal government’s uncertainty in its own capabilities:

Although Comey said the process has since “improved dramatically,” Syrian refugees will be even harder to check because, unlike in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have not been on the ground collecting information on the local population. “If we don’t know much about somebody, there won’t be anything in our data,” he said. “I can’t sit here and offer anybody an absolute assurance that there’s no risk associated with this.”

Comey and Clapper are not politicians. They are the top security officials in the U.S., and they are telling the American public that the government cannot guarantee it can protect them from terrorism spurred within a refugee settlement program.

FBI Director James Comey, right, accompanied by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, center, and National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, before the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on worldwide threats and homeland security challenges. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

FBI Director James Comey, right, and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, center, testify before the House Homeland Security Committee on world terror threats. | Photo: AP

Instead of taking measures to create a better vetting process, President Obama is spending his time criticizing Republican lawmakers for wanting to stop any refugee resettlement until security assurances can be made. After labeling the widespread terrorist attack in France merely a “setback,” Obama refocused his ire toward Republicans, saying:

“Apparently, they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion… they’ve been playing on fear in order to try to score political points or to advance their campaigns.” 

So, what is this position held by Republicans (as well as the vast majority of the American people and Sen. Chuck Schumer [D-N.Y.]) that is supposedly so extreme? Here’s what Speaker Paul Ryan had to say about the GOP’s position on refugee resettlement:

“But these events should serve as a reminder: there is still evil out there. We cannot ignore it. We cannot contain it. We must defeat it.

“And we must protect our people. The country is uneasy and unsettled. And they have every right to be. Not because of what they’re hearing from politicians, but when they’ve seen with their own eyes.

“All of us here – Republicans and Democrats are hearing these concerns in our offices. People understand the plight of those fleeing the Middle East. But they also want basic assurances for the safety of this country.

“We are a compassionate nation. We always have been, and we always will be. But we also must remember that our first priority is to protect the American people. We can be compassionate, and we can also be safe.

“That’s what the bill we’re bringing up tomorrow is all about. It calls for a new standard of verification for refugees from Syria and Iraq. It would mean a pause in the program until we can be certain beyond any doubt that those coming here are not a threat. It’s that simple. And I don’t think it’s asking too much.

“I also want to point out that we will not have a religious test, only a security test. If the intelligence and law enforcement community cannot certify that a person presents no threat, then they should not be allowed in. This is common sense. And it’s our obligation.”

To any sensible observer, this is a totally reasonable request: firm up security procedures and allow refugees to resettle here without a religious litmus test. It’s a position that both protects our people and demonstrates compassion for those in need. President Obama has already announced he plans to veto this bill, reminding us all that he’s totally disinterested in addressing the causes and consequences of terrorism.

Meanwhile, in other corners of the Democratic Party, David Bowers, the mayor of Roanoke, Va., issued an official letter praising Japanese interment camps and suggesting that the U.S. government should take a similar approach in handling the Syrian refugee crisis. Until last night, Bowers served on Hillary Clinton’s campaign leadership team in Virginia.

So, while the Republican Party offers a unified message of a “security first, compassion immediately to follow” solution, the Democrats are all over the place: some are vilifying Republicans as anti-Muslim xenophobes while refusing to repair a broken vetting process that leaves our people vulnerable; others are agreeing with the GOP on a need for a “pause” in a resettlement program; and still others are even calling for refugees to be placed in World War II era-style interment camps (also created by … wait for it … a Democrat).

So, I’ve got to ask: who’s acting crazy about Syrian refugees, again?

Ellen Carmichael is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter at @ellencarmichael.