There are times when the sickness caused by acts of evil can only cured by acts of humanity. The people of Paris showed us that last Friday. In addition to trained first responders, untrained civilians pushed back unimaginable fear, and helped save, house and comfort those who survived the attack. Their bravery bordered on recklessness. It was beautiful. Those heroic men and woman helped keep the anguish caused by the band of terrorists who preyed on Paris Friday night at bay.
We’ve heard a lot mean-spirited rhetoric aimed at the Syrian refugees lately, some of it coming from people vying for the Office of President. However, there are other thoughtful individuals who want to block Syrian refugees from entering our country for reasons other than being callous towards innocents. They fear if we let refugees in, terrorists will enter the country with them.
The concerns of the latter group are legitimate but I respectfully disagree.
First of all, it’s not easy to legally come to the United States as a refugee. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a U.S. Embassy or an authorized NGO must refer anyone fleeing danger to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). From there a Resettlement Support Center (RSC) prepares a case for presentation to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The process includes interviews, an intensive screening process, and a medical evaluation, all aimed at making sure the applying refugee is not a danger to the United States. Besides Homeland Security, several other federal agencies including the FBI, the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Counterterrorism Center take part of the process. Nothing is foolproof, but the steps to gain entry into this country as a refugee are rigorous.
Those fleeing Syria are trying to escape terrorists. I don’t think we should help any terrorists by failing to comfort and heal the innocents they brutalize. We should look to the examples set by the people of Paris Friday night, the people of Boston on Marathon Monday 2013, all those in Europe who saved Jews from the clutches of the Nazis or those who helped African American slaves escape to safety. In these cases and many more throughout history, good people conquered their own fears to help those in despair and combat evil.
We don’t live in a world that can guarantee 100% safety from terrorists. But if we weigh the benefits of saving innocent victims from certain peril against the risk of bad people slipping through the cracks, I hope we can all agree our humanity only allows us one choice.
Please let the Syrian refugees in.
~ Harvey Bravman, Publisher