From the tone of his post-Paris remarks, you’d think that a sophisticated terrorist assault on a major Western city is a setback; sentiment in the United States against taking more Syrian refugees is an atrocity.
Obama warned against “that dark impulse inside of us,” as if we were debating whether Syrian refugees should be drawn and quartered. He said that “slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.” He was joined by liberal commentators who scoffed and guffawed at worries over Syrian refugees after — ho-hum, nothing to see here — one of the Paris terrorists apparently posed as a refugee.
It’s remarkable that the president feels justified in lecturing anyone on humanitarianism. He has stood by while Syria has descended into a hellish chaos, and hasn’t betrayed any guilty conscience. If you put those 10,000 Syrian refugees back in their native country and let them get gassed, barrel-bombed, shelled or shot, would he bat an eye at the ever-growing casualty count?
The Syrian refugees are most useful to the president as a symbol of his alleged cosmopolitanism and of the supposed backwardness of his opposition.
The problem with the argument that our values compel us to take refugees is that it isn’t subject to any limit. We admit about 70,000 refugees a year. Is that the American level? Or would 700,000 be more American? And what’s the balance between prudential considerations — cost, security, assimilation — and American-ness?
By any reasonable standard we are justified in telling Europe that we have already done our part on migration, thank you very much. According to immigration expert Jessica Vaughan, since 2009 we have accepted 70 percent of all resettled United Nations-designated refugees worldwide.
It is true that Europe at the moment faces a migrant crisis. It’s not hard to see how it can begin to handle it. First, tell Germany’s foolhardy chancellor to stop encouraging more migrants to come; enforce national boundaries like nation-states have from time immemorial; refuse to accept anyone who hasn’t been processed properly.
The United States, already dealing with a steady migrant flow from south of the border, needn’t become part of the bidding for Syrian refugees.
Resources can be better spent in Middle Eastern countries that are hosting millions of Syrian refugees. The Center for Immigration Studies, which supports restrictions on immigration, estimates that the cost of settling one Syrian refugee here would support 12 Syrian refugees in the other Middle Eastern states.
While we don’t face the security risk of Europe, where the refugee flow is essentially uncontrolled, there is no reliable way to vet Syrian refugees.
Finally, assimilation is an obvious concern. The experience of the Somali refugee community in Minneapolis hasn’t been a happy one. Unemployment is high, and the community has provided dozens of recruits to radical Islamist groups.
Of course, that we are discussing a Syrian refugee crisis at all is another symptom of the president’s abject failure in the Middle East. So, please, Mr. President, spare us your sanctimony and condescension.
(Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.)
© 2015 by King Features Synd., Inc.