[See update at the bottom. – J.E.]
I say they “begin” because there will probably be more governors coming to the same conclusion in the days ahead: resettling “refugees from Syria” is too dangerous for American communities.
Given that one of the Paris attackers is known to have entered France as a “Syrian refugee,” many Americans are asking why the United States should even continue to accept “Syrian refugees” for resettlement, much less accelerate or enlarge the scope of the influx. The Obama administration confirmed this past weekend that it in fact plans to increase the number of “refugees” America resettles, and will soon open processing centers in Irbil, Iraq and Lebanon to facilitate the flow.
Now six state governors have announced they won’t accept “Syrian refugees” (who may or may not be either Syrian, or refugees, as Europe has been learning) for resettlement in their states. So far, the governors of Texas, Michigan, Louisiana, Indiana, Alabama, and Arkansas (all Republicans) have made this pledge.
Obama, meanwhile, doubled down on his passion for “Syrian refugees” at the G20 presser this morning:
“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” he said. “Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”
He also addressed Ted Cruz’s suggestion after the Paris attacks that the U.S. should make sure the Syrians we admit are Christians:
Without directly naming GOP presidential candidates, the president blasted political leaders for suggesting the United States should accept only Christians fleeing Syria. He alluded to the fact that some of these same politicians — namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), whose father fled Cuba decades ago – -had benefited from America’s willingness to accept refugees.
“And when I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians but not the Muslims, when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” he said, his voice rising. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
That may be, but the Obama administration itself has been notably picky about refugees from Iraq who (a) are Christians, and (b) had to get out of Iraq because ISIS is slaughtering them. As of mid-September, about half of the Iraqi Christians being held at a detention center in southern California were slated for deportation. Assuming they are deported to Iraq, the odds are very good that that’s a death sentence.
Yet the likelihood that any of the Iraqi Christians will become a terrorist in the U.S. is zero.
U.S. refugee admissions for Middle Easterners are heavily skewed toward Muslims already. The contrast with Obama’s policy on “Syrian refugees” — most of whom will be male Muslims under 40 — is plain. We can also count on the same problem Europe is seeing: an onslaught of fake “Syrians” incentivized by policies in the West that favor Syrians for resettlement. The assumption of fake Syrian identities happens before the would-be asylees reach the first Western processing center; for U.S. centers in Iraq or Lebanon, hopeful migrants could get fake Syrian documents in Iraq or Turkey, as many of them do already.
It’s no wonder American governors don’t want to have to try to sort these people out. Obama’s reference to admitting refugees only after a “rigorous screening and security check” is laughable: what conceivable means are there for doing such checks on refugees coming from a war zone? In what way can the people who line up for processing be “rigorously” vouched for?
Of course, the argument can be made that the governors won’t have much of an impact by refusing to accept migrants in their states. Once the migrants get to America, wherever they land, nothing will stop them from simply going to other states.
The governors may be faced with propositions like prohibiting the use of public housing, and the distribution of welfare benefits, to people admitted to the U.S. as Syrian refugees. It’s hard to imagine states wanting to get down in the enforcement weeds that way. Ultimately, there would seem to be a limited effect from the “no resettlement” policy.
That’s in addition to the continuing problem of people-smuggling from the Middle East and Africa to Central America (see here, here, here, here, and here, as well), which has produced a significant increase in the number of African and Middle Eastern Muslims crossing the U.S. border from Mexico. Many of these illegal migrants promptly claim asylum status on being detained by U.S. authorities. (Others get in unnoticed, although in their demographic groups, that’s harder to do than it is for Latin Americans.)
So, again, there’s a limit to how effective the governors’ stand against resettlement will be. Time will tell if it’s the start of a political wave that will make a difference in Washington.
*UPDATE*: This information reported at The Daily Caller certainly sheds some light on the intransigent position taken by the governors. It appears that Syrian refugees* (asterisk to reflect that that may or may not be what they are) have been arriving in Louisiana for some time — but Congress has only just recently learned of it. Fortunately, the number seems to be very small. The information source for Congress? A local news outlet in New Orleans.
According to a House Homeland Security Committee aide, Congress did not know about 13 Syrian refugees who arrived in New Orleans over the past two fiscal years until it was reported by a local news outlet 10 days ago.
This eliciting a warning from from the Committee about the lack of current intelligence regarding the refugees who are in the U.S. and those who will arrive in the future.
The numbers aren’t going to stay small, however.
The Obama administration is looking to increase the number of Syrian refugees who may be admitted into the U.S. as well as speed up the process. The administration plans to do this, Reuters reports, by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon [already cited in original text above]. As of now, the administration promised to accept as many as 100,000 refugees each year by the end of 2017. The present annual cap is at 70,000.
It’s no wonder the governors began their revolt this morning.
*UPDATE 2*: As of Monday evening, the trickle of states rejecting Syrian refugees has become a flood. There are now 21 governors refusing to accept the refugees:
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Carolina