Should the U.S. offer new homes to Syrian refugees?

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/25/15, 05:12 pm

WASHINGTON—U.S. lawmakers continue to debate taking in some of the 4 million Syrian refugees from the civil war that began March 2011. Those against a resettlement program argue it could be an easy way for terrorists to enter the country.

“America has welcomed refugees from conflict zones,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas. “We would not abandon that tradition. But we must also not abandon our vigilance, and we cannot be naïve.”

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security today that America could lend a hand to Syria without necessarily opening its doors. He said this could be done by “improving the situation of the (refugee) camps, providing education, job opportunities.”

The United Nations estimates the Syrian civil war has left 6.5 million people internally displaced, and another 3 million as refugees in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.

U.S. officials say the delay in accepting Syrian refugees is a result of an ineffective vetting system to determine whether refugees have any alliance with terrorist groups.

“It comes down to having working partners in Syria, and we do not,” said Thomas Fuentes, retired FBI assistant director. “Our human sources are minimal, and we don’t have a government we can partner with, and that’s a key thing,” he said.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., emphasized the humanitarian side of the Syrian crisis.

“These refugees, like most others that arrive in the U.S., are fleeing difficult, even life-threatening, situations,” Thompson said. “The idea that they would be met with suspicion and hate upon arrival in the United States is an affront to the values we uphold and promote.”

Given the crisis of meeting humanitarian needs and protecting national security, Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., believes the United States can help without opening its doors to the refugees.

“Taking a fresher look at what we can do to help them from here would fulfill our moral comparative to help them,” he said.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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