The Refugee Crisis- Compassion vs. Caution

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Amidst GOP presidential candidates (I believe with the exception of Jeb) and a number of governors appearing to be xenophobic and Islamophobic, the comedian-in-chief took their position as an opportunity to ridicule and belittle:

Manila, Philippines (CNN)President Barack Obama sharply criticized Republicans Wednesday for suggesting that Syrian refugees coming to the United States posed a security threat, blasting some GOP suggestions as “offensive” and mocking what he said was a fear of “widows and orphans.”

“We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said. “We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”

“Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” he said later. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”

How presidential. What a uniter.

Meanwhile in this morning’s news, 8 ISIS suspects have been arrested at the Istanbul airport, posing as refugees:

Police sources said one of the suspects had a hand-drawn picture of a planned route from Turkey to Germany, via Greece, Serbia and Hungary.

It is believed the group are Islamic State militants planning to make their way to Germany posing as refugees.

The Anadolu Agency said the group arrived in Istanbul from Casablanca, Morocco, and were interviewed by criminal profiling teams at Ataturk Airport.

Anadolu said the eight claimed to be tourists visiting Istanbul but a hotel refuted claims they had reservations there.

The arrests come as Europe is on high alert following the terror attacks in Paris which have left 129 dead and hundreds injured.

The arrests come after an ISIS terrorist bragged about how easy it was to smuggle thousands of covert jihadists into Europe under the guise of being a desperate refugee.

The Syrian operative claimed more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen had made it into western nations, hidden among innocent refugees.

He said members of the blood-thirsty group were following the well-trodden route taken by refugees and migrants fleeing Syria, travelling across the border of Turkey then on to boats across to Greece and through Europe.

The man claimed there are now more than 4,000 covert ISIS gunmen “ready” to strike across the European Union.

He said it was the beginning of a larger plot to carry out revenge attacks in the West in retaliation for the US-led coalition airstrikes.

He said extremists are taking advantage of developed nations’ generosity towards refugees to infiltrate Europe, he said.

More than 1.5million refugees have fled into Turkey alone – desperate to escape the bloodshed in Syria.

From Turkish port cities like Izmir and Mersin, thousands of refugees venture across the Mediterranean aiming for Italy, he said.

Then the majority make for more welcoming nations like Sweden and Germany, turning themselves over to authorities and appealing for asylum.

He said: “They are going like refugees.

“It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world.”

Two Turkish refugee-smugglers backed up the claims made by the terrorist.

One admitted to helping more than ten trained ISIS rebels infiltrate Europe under the guise of asylum seekers.

He said: “I’m sending some fighters who want to go and visit their families.

“Others just go to Europe to be ready.”

One good piece I’ve seen in defense of allowing in Syrian refugees is by Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare Blog:

There is a critical moral line here; there is also an important strategic line. I have nothing to add on the law to Steve Vladeck’s excellent piece this morning on the federalism issues associated with refugee resettlement. Allow me, however, a brief meditation on the morality and strategic stupidity of the hostility many of our leading politicians are showing to ISIS’s and Assad’s victims.

Let’s start with the moral point: Unlike the many tough and controversial tactics the Bush and Obama administrations have used in combatting terrorism, what’s going on now involves action directed at concededly innocent people. Even the CIA’s interrogation program waterboarded people believed to be Al Qaeda’s senior operational leadership. The tens of thousands of people governors are pledging to keep out of their states are, by contrast, innocent victims of the very people we are fighting. Nobody contests this. Nobody argues that they are, in fact, an army of ISIS operatives. The concern, rather, is that some tiny percentage of them will be sleeper operatives infiltrated into a much larger group of people deserving of our protection.

I would make an analogy here to throwing out babies with bathwater, except that it would be in poor taste. We’re dealing with real babies, after all.

Let’s concede the point that our rigorous and slow screening system will fail in some small percentage of cases and that we will admit some number of people who turn out to be bad. If that is enough to stop all Syrian refugees from finding shelter here, why do we grant visas—and we grant many of them—to people from that part of the world at all? Why do we let students come here from the Persian Gulf? Why do we let tourists come here from just about anywhere? And, more to the point, why have we let refugees come here from all sorts of nasty places in the world? Each refugee community brings with it a certain number of bad apples. But I wouldn’t give back the Mariel boatlift, though it involved a fair number of Cuban criminals. The United States also sheltered a large number of Iranians after the Revolution in 1979. We are, by a few country miles, the world’s leader in refugee resettlement. To suddenly say that the risk of ISIS infiltrating this particular refugee flow makes it categorically different from all others is really a backhanded way of saying that we should make a different set of security presumptions about Arabs, even those we know to be victims of the worst forms of oppression by our own military enemies.

The sentiment is not just ugly. It may also be profoundly self-defeating in security terms. Yes, if we admit tens of thousands of refugees, we will likely admit some who will give the FBI headaches. We will also create a community that values American liberty and religious freedom, that engages constructively with our economy and with our law enforcement and that sees this country as part of the solution to—or at least a haven from—the tragedy that is Syria.

It is worth reflecting at least briefly on the security risks of turning our backs on hundreds of thousands of helpless people fleeing some combination of ISIS and Assad. Imagine teeming refugee camps in which everyone knows that America has abandoned them. Imagine the conspiracy theories that will be rife in those camps. Imagine the terrorist groups that will recruit from them and the righteous case they will make about how, for all its talk, the United States left Syria to burn and Syrians to live in squalor in wretched camps in neighboring countries. I don’t know if this situation is more dangerous, less dangerous, or about as dangerous as the situation in which we admit a goodly number of refugees, help resettle others, and run some risk—which we endeavor to mitigate—that we might admit some bad guys. But this is not a situation in which all of the risk is stacked on the side of doing good, while turning away is the safe option. There is risk whatever we do or don’t do.

Most profoundly, there is risk associated with saying loudly and unapologetically that we don’t care what happens to hundreds of thousands of innocent people—or that we care if they’re Christian but not if they’re Muslim, or that we care but we’ll keep them out anyway if there’s even a fraction of a percent chance they are not what they claim to be. They hear us when we say these things. And they will see what we do. And those things too have security consequences.

Trying to weigh in the pros and cons, I am on the fence.

FA readers?

39 Responses to “The Refugee Crisis- Compassion vs. Caution”

  1. 1

    old guy

    My feeling is we stop all immigration until we get a real handle on what is going on.

    I do not trust the immigrants from the ME at all. Their goal appears to be kill anyone who has a different viewpoint.

    I hope we can survive another year of BHO and his policies?

  2. 2


    @Wordsmith –

    In dealing with refugees on the battlefield, it is not the easiest to discern who is truly a refugee versus the enemy trying to infiltrate. We have faced this in every war, but in the end, we opted for them to cross behind our lines. This is the same in this regard.

    The point Jeb was trying to make, albeit very poorly (again), is that Syrian Christians, and Christians, in general, trying to flee ISIS will be left between a rock and a hard place. We’ve seen this administration trying to send back Christians into ISIS-controlled areas, saying their religious persuasion is insufficient to approve their asylum requests while approving the asylum requests for Muslims because they are … Muslims.

    Moreover, the refugee problem is largely an outgrowth of the lack of leadership from the president himself. He is risk averse. It is the reason for his slowness when it comes to decision-making and opting for guarantees and outcomes that cannot be given.

  3. 3


    Why is it every time they show a “good moderate” muslim on the news they will say jihad is bad then become very quiet when it comes to do you support Sharia Law?
    I like to drive, my man doesn’t always want to accompany me when I go shopping, I would like to see my grand-daughter properly educated. I know I am a feminazi

  4. 4

    James raider

    There is not much more despicable than a President standing at a foreign podium addressing an international audience and Insulting ANY of his own people.

    His hatred of his own Nation is unmistakable.

  5. 6

    Nanny G

    First this:

    EIGHT migrants have got into Europe with same papers as those found on stadium suicide bomber.

    The only difference was the photograph.
    Serbian officials said as many as six other men this year had entered the EU with virtually identical passports.

    The passport is in the name of Ahmad Almohammad, born September 10, 1990 in the Syrian city of Idlib.
    Sources said it was either taken or fabricated based on a real identity.

    The discovery has heightened fears that all the documents are fakes made by the same forger in the Middle East to dupe authorities into believing the holders are asylum seekers.

    Now how ”rigorous is out ”vetting” process?
    7 days of training for it.
    Lowered standards for it:
    You can be a terrorist’s spouse!
    You can be a terrorist (!!!) who renounces terror.
    Although a religious test is perfectly legal it will NOT be administered so you can say you are whatever religion you want.
    Who knew Christians are afraid to register with the UN?
    We do have a religious test, and for plausible deniability, one that is administered by the United Nations.
    And as a result, those refugees being discriminated are both Christians and those who are the most victimized and persecuted in Syria.

    Obama wants to use his remaining months in office to DISARM Americans.
    And, simultaneously, he wants to flood the country with un-vetted Muslims of all ages.
    Weird, no?

  6. 8

    Nanny G

    When does Obama let respect for Law determine his actions?

    Not too often.

    Not with regard the issue of Refugees.

    Under the Federal provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission:

    must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.

    To qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , U.S. Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion:

    The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion [among other things] …[.]

    Let’s be fair to ISIS……
    They desire all Muslims to be subservient to them or die.
    But, as for Christians, Jews and infidels, they demand conversion, force sexual slavery and lastly murder the remainder.

  7. 9

    Common Sense

    What compassion are Syrian Refugees showing to their own children and wives when 72% of them are military age men? What kind of compassion are muslims showing towards muslims if Syrian refugees have to seek out western countries?? Radical islamic terrorism is real even if President Obola doesn’t have the brain or guts to admit it!!

  8. 10


    @Common Sense, #9:

    What compassion are Syrian Refugees showing to their own children and wives when 72% of them are military age men?

    Actually, that is not at all accurate:

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees — which refers refugees for resettlement in other countries — says there are more than 4 million registered Syrian refugees. Its figures on the demographic makeup of refugees is based on available data on the 2.1 million who were registered by the UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. (Another 1.9 million Syrian refugees were registered by the Government of Turkey, and more than 24,000 were registered in North Africa.)

    UNHCR’s data show that 50.5 percent of refugees are women. Females age 18 to 59 make up 23.9 percent of the refugees, while males in that age group make up 21.8 percent.

    A rather small minority of the total are males of military age. It’s probably a safe assumption that this segment includes husbands and fathers.

  9. 12


    -Of the roughly 2,500 Syrians the U.S. has taken in since the civil war erupted in that country in the spring of 2011, about half are children. Only about 2 percent are single men of combat age. The overall pool is almost evenly split between males and females.
    These numbers only count those already here.
    2% single I guess the married males of fighting age wouldn’t count
    less than 2% of these refugees are Christian, mainly because they either cant reach the camps, are killed at the camps or the UN that is registering them is biased

  10. 15


    3,106 killed by Muslims in America in 75 terror attacks) 1972 to2015
    Home grown, tourists or refugees, these people are dead, what possible difference does it make now?

  11. 16

    Common Sense

    @Reem: Are your really that stupid?? There was a little incident called 9/11 that was carried out by radical islamic terrorist so don’t tell me how peaceful the muslims are. Every terrorist activity for the past 20 years has ended in allah akbar!!

  12. 18

    Nanny G

    @Reem: You might want to Google Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi.

    “There is an undeniable connection between our refugee resettlement program and the increased risk of a terror attack within the United States,” said Jessica Vaughan, an immigration expert at the Center for Immigration Studies.

    There have been roughly 70 terrorist plots in the United States since 9/11 and scores of young people who are first or second generation refugees and immigrants who have become involved in some way with Islamist jihadists, either by undertaking attacks here or traveling overseas to join a terrorist group, or both,” she said.

  13. 19


    Not to worry. The GOP is ready with a response to the shocking danger of terrorism by people entering the United States as refugees. This chart demonstrates just how bad the problem has become.

    They’re politically opportunistic jackasses, encouraging and exploiting fear. That’s my diagnosis. Do something useful? Not a chance in hell of that. Genuinely useful responses would involve taking political risks. Rational responses might require them to support certain policies already being pursued by the Commander in Chief. They’re afraid to even give the appearance of that.

  14. 20


    @Common Sense, #15:

    Given past experience, we could probably project a total of few to none. Refer to the article linked in post #16.

    I think there have been a few refugees arrested in the United States for having connections to terrorist organisations. I believe they were all from Bosnia and Somalia. The Tsarnaev brothers came in on tourist visas.

    Maybe somebody should point such details out to the sponsors of the bill. Of course the bill is really nothing more than a stage prop, which will be used in some upcoming political theater.

  15. 21

    Common Sense

    @Greg: Do you remember 9/11?? A few killed thousands and destroyed our economy for a long time. Of course you blame Bush but reality is something you fail to grasp!! BTW they where radical islamic extremists that called upon allah as they went to hell!!

  16. 22

    another vet

    When dealing with refugees or dislocated/displaced civilians, the goal is to keep them as close to home as possible and then return them there as fast as the situation permits. This doesn’t seem to be the case here. Where’s the UNHCR in all of this?

  17. 23


    House defies Obama, approves bill halting Syrian refugees

    In a 289-137 vote, the House on Thursday easily approved legislation that requires new screening requirements on refugees from Syria and Iraq before they can enter the United States.

    Forty-seven Democrats defied President Obama’s veto threat and backed the bill — just short of enough to override a presidential veto if all members are present.

    The 47 Democrats who voted against the bill ranged from centrist Blue Dogs, vulnerable lawmakers in tough reelection races and even one member of leadership: Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who heads House Democrats’ communications efforts.
    Two Republicans voted against the bill: Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) and Steve King (Iowa).

    GOP aides noted that because of absences, the vote would have met the two-thirds requirement to override a presidential veto if that vote had been held Thursday. Still, there’s no guarantee that Democrats would vote to override the president if the bill comes back to the floor.

    The legislation will now go to the Senate, where it may face a tougher path to passage.

  18. 26


    @Common Sense, #21:

    Do you remember 9/11?? A few killed thousands and destroyed our economy for a long time. Of course you blame Bush but reality is something you fail to grasp!!

    Our primary enemies are fear and stupidity. The House, for example, just passed a bill that will require the FBI and other law enforcement organizations to focus a significant amount of their already seriously-over-burdened manpower and resources on the background checks of Syrian refugees, when there are no indicators, historical or current, suggesting this particular group is more likely than others to represent a threat. That means there will be significantly less resources and manpower available to focus on areas of greater and more legitimate concern.

    The next terrorist attack in America is far more likely to come from a domestic source—copy-cat idiots already among us with easy access to military-style firearms—or from trained people arriving here in a far more routine fashion, flying in on tourist or student visas.

    Does Congress want to do something genuinely useful? Do they want to eliminate an astonishingly real danger that’s sitting there in plain sight, just waiting to become part of the next new media nightmare? Get the damn Tannerite off of store shelves and out of the internet marketplaces. How obvious does a danger have to be before it registers?

  19. 27

    Common Sense

    @Greg: Greggie, when you say the Peoples House remember that it was passed in a bipartisan manner!! To help you with the concept Greggie, that means Democrats voted in favor as well. If resources are your issue than tell Obola to stop trying to give 11 million ILlEGAL Mexicans citizenship!! Tell Obola that his healthcare plan wasting huge amount of resources. If history holds out Greggie the next terrorist attack will be from an enemy that Obola fails to recognize and that is radical islamic terrorists. Resources are NOT an issue on this one Greggie but nice try!!

  20. 28


    That democrats voted for the bill as well as republicans makes it no less useless. The bill is a feel-good measure. A placebo, that allows politicians to pretend they’ve done something useful when they really haven’t. Unlike a harmless sugar pill, however the bill could have seriously negative unintended effects. It will divert limited manpower and resources from things that could pose far greater dangers. It could make us less safe rather than more safe.

    Fear can make people stupid.

  21. 29

    Common Sense

    @Greg: Greggie do you know who our enemy is?? Do you know who America is at war with?? Do you understand Obola’s Strategy to win this war?? No way you could, for you to say America is doing the best they can against a JV Team of farmers and teachers and yet they are as strong today as ever then our strategy is wrong “period”!! In Iraq we flew over 1,000 sortes a day Greggie, if you average the sortes that have been flown agains ISIS it isn’t even 5 Greggie!! If you subtract the bombers the came back without dropping their ordinance it’s even less!! Greggie, if this effort is the best the US can do then it’s no wonder Americans are correctly worried!! Admit it Greggie, Obola has failed and one reason is he can’t even say who our enemy is. BTW, now chemical weapons are being discussed, if 8 terrorist can kill 3,000 with aircraft terror, how many can one terrorist kill with a chemical weapon!! Wake up and realize your president has failed!!

  22. 30


    @Greg: We don’t know what is in the bill what resources it would require but you can sit in judgement of it, Is it better to run with scissors than to take a bit more caution in these troubling times? Settle down a little, your response to a few democrats that broke ranks and voted to increase the screening process shouldn’t upset you so much. The Prez only has to deal with this for less than 500 days he will be ok.

  23. 34


    It was probably easy to miss. I’m afraid my link to the bill could have been clearer about what I was linking to. This is the bill as it was last night. It’s possible there’s been rewording or that additions have been made since then.

    ‘‘American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015’’ aka the ‘‘American SAFE Act of 2015’’.

    My concern is that it could divert limited resources to background checks on people that are highly unlikely to pose threats, just because they’re Syrian refugees. Families consisting of parents and small children, for example. It turns “Syrian” into a profiling marker that demands an excessive amount of attention.

  24. 35



    It will divert limited manpower and resources from things that could pose far greater dangers. It could make us less safe rather than more safe.

    What things that could pose far greater dangers? Perhaps you are referring to our porous southern border that Obama has refused to properly man and protect?

    Fear can make people stupid.

    And your excuse for being stupid is……………………………?????????????????????

  25. 36


    Thank you, I read it , and there seems to be too many committees, as there is a threat to blow up the Whitehouse, its a good thing they are increasing background checks to those being admitted from the birthplace of ISIS.

  26. 37

    Nanny G

    Had anyone Googled those two terrorists I named above?
    It was because of them that OBAMA suspended the processing of Iraqi refugee requests for SIX MONTHS!

    As a result of the Kentucky case, the State Department stopped processing Iraq refugees for six months in 2011, federal officials told ABC News…

    According to a 2013 report from ABC News, at least one of the Kentucky terrorists passed background and fingerprint checks conducted by the Department of Homeland Security prior to being allowed to enter the United States. Without the fingerprint evidence taken from roadside bombs, which one federal forensic scientist referred to as “a needle in the haystack,” it is unlikely that the two terrorists would ever have been identified and apprehended.

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