A cascade of Republicans on Monday implored the Obama administration to scrap plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the United States next year, saying they pose an unacceptable security risk in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
And, in a dramatic twist, the sudden standoff is raising the possibility of a government shutdown next month.
Throughout the day a host of Republican governors around the country, wary that refugees could end up in their home states, blasted President Barack Obama’s plans. But those governors lack real sway over the process, and some are asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to insert a provision in the Dec. 11 spending bill that would bar more Syrian settlers.
The politics are moving fast: The Democratic governor of New Hampshire, a Senate candidate, is siding with conservatives, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is reversing his support for a $1 billion spending bill intended to allow in more Syrian refugees after touting the measure just weeks ago. GOP leaders are keeping their options open as they mull whether to try to block new Syrian refugees by adding language to the must-pass spending bill.
Republicans’ chief concerns stem from reports that at least one of the suspects in Friday’s attacks may have crossed through Greece along with refugees. A Syrian passport discovered near the body of one of the attackers in Paris showed that the holder of the passport passed through Leros, Greece, in early October, according to Reuters. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday afternoon that the Syrian passport was fake, according to French officials.
The Obama administration announced in September that it planned to take in about 10,000 additional Syrian refugees as the crisis in the Middle Eastern nation worsened, and European nations also proposed plans to resettle refugees. Congressional Democrats have proposed letting in as many as 100,000 refugees over time.
Top Republicans are already discussing strategy. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) held conference calls with “several committee chairmen” over the weekend to discuss “providing support to our French and regional allies, as well as identifying steps the Congress can take to keep Americans safe from the threat posed by ISIS,” according to an aide.
Safety vs. humanitarian relief–where do you stand? Obviously we can’t just open our borders to everyone seeking asylum. Nor should we turn our back on people in trouble. Many of these people have been the victims of civil war in Syria for over 5 years.
Are there ways to offer humanitarian relief and still keep our country safe from those who wish us harm? Sure, but I am not so sure it can happen in a timely fashion. Where do you house 10,000 people until we are ready? How do you vet people who have lived the life of refugees? Will the people remain in this country? Would all the refugees go to the same basic location? Would those who gained entrance to the United States be permitted to dress in burqa like attire?
Someone I know offered the suggestion that the western countries quickly build shelters and resorts for the refugees in areas in the middle east. These refugee areas would be very guarded and would have food, shelter and fresh water. I asked how the countries where the resorts were being placed would take this “offer.”
It’s a tricky question. I have very mixed emotions. I just don’t think we can leave people to die. That is what will happen if some of these people do not get relief.
As for the government…well…that is blackmail. 19 governors have also told President Obama that they refuse to take in refugees. (Can they really do that?)