November 20, 2015

The Pennsylvania Avenue Refugee Showdown

Congress battles Obama over the Islamic Trojan horse.

Despite intense lobbying by the administration, the House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to approve a measure stiffening oversight requirements for those seeking refugee status. The 289-137 margin was enough to stave off Barack Obama’s veto threat, particularly when 45 Democrats went against him and supported the House bill, dubbed the American SAFE Act. Those going against Obama said to vote otherwise would be “radioactive.” (If it were up to the Islamic State, the vote wouldn’t be the only thing that’s radioactive.)

In a refreshingly powerful and coherent message from the House speaker, Paul Ryan said, “Let me comment about his veto threat: It baffles me. I just for the life of me don’t understand why his veto threat came as it did, especially given the fact that his own law enforcement top officials came to congress and testified that there are gaps in this refugee program.” He continued, “ISIL is already telling us that they are trying to infiltrate the refugee population. When we have indications that some of the Paris bombers … may have come through the refugee routes, don’t you think that common sense dictates that we should take a pause and get this right?”

As with most conservatives, Ryan’s concern isn’t with all or even most refugees; it’s with the few who pose a threat.

But never mind common sense. Obama says, “The idea that somehow [refugees] pose a more significant threat than all the tourists who pour into the United States every single day just doesn’t jive with reality. So my expectation is after the initial spasm of rhetoric, the people will settle down, take a look at the facts, and we’ll be able to proceed.” His reality is an alternate utopian one.

Our morning Obama administration email briefing defended his Syrian immigrant plan, noting, “7,014 — The number of Syrians the Department of Homeland Security has interviewed since FY 2011; 2,034 — The number of Syrian refugees who have been admitted since FY 2011; 0 — The number of Syrian refugees resettled in the U.S. that have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.”

Memo to Obama: Give them some time. And he should tell that to the hundreds of American soldiers killed by “vetted allies” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He’s certainly got Senate Democrats ready to circle the wagons. When Obama told Harry Reid to jump, the “how high” response from the Senate minority leader came in a press conference. “Don’t worry, [the American SAFE Act] won’t get passed,” snapped Reid. “Next question.” Senate Democrats will unveil their plan after Thanksgiving, aimed at tightening up security gaps in the visa waiver program. In reality, their plan boils down to, once again, saving Obama from an uncomfortable veto.

But while Senate Democrats seem tone-deaf, a handful of Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions, thought the House bill wasn’t stringent enough. Sessions favors defunding the process, which may make for another budget showdown.

A majority of the nation’s governors expressed opposition to Obama’s Islamic Trojan horse in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. But it’s a partisan split. Of the Republican governors, only Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has indicated these refugees would be welcomed. On the other hand, only one Democrat governor has joined the Republicans — and that’s because Gov. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire may be just as interested in her 2016 Senate campaign as she is the safety of her residents. While states are largely at the mercy of the federal government as far as accepting refugees, they can certainly slow-walk the process.

But even those Democrats willing to take refugees question how the federal government will conduct the vetting process. Considering known terror suspects have slipped through the cracks before, FBI Director James Comey admitted, “There’s no doubt that was the product of a less-than-excellent vetting.”

“I don’t … put it past the likes of [the Islamic State] to infiltrate operatives among these refugees,” added Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. That’s exactly the point, particularly when the vast majority of Syrian refugees are Islamic, not the truly persecuted Syrian Christians.

Out of 351 Syrian refugees admitted since October 1, 346 of them were Sunnis while just five were from Christian sects. That’s not a recent trend, either: Since 2012, less than 2% of Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. have been Christian, yet as a nation about one in 10 Syrians are thought to be Christian. (A century ago, that number was estimated to be three in 10, and Christians are in danger of eradication.)

Despite Obama’s caterwauling about how “shameful” religious tests would be, U.S. law requires religion to be a consideration for refugee status. While Syria certainly qualifies as a war-torn country, given the risk of jihadi infiltration via the refugee route, many Americans delivered a loud and clear message to their representatives: Now is not the time for an influx of Islamic Syrian refugees.

It’s a message the White House continues to ignore at Hillary Clinton’s peril, especially given her insistence that “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”

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