Some recent posts in this space and arguments on Facebook prove that I’m happy to argue over the moral principles and civic practicalities around United States policy on Syrian refugees, but I have to admit a level of disbelief that this is what we’re arguing about and holding competing rallies over at this particular time in history. With that disbelief comes an urge to imagine how this issue might have proceeded under a decent U.S. president.
Events in Syria are a matter of war and national security, but they are also creating a humanitarian disaster. My administration will therefore continue to hold a higher target for admitting refugees into our country. But I understand that the American people have reasonable apprehensions about the refugee process, in light of the atrocity in Paris, and that large lines of differing opinion currently run across our nation.
My administration will therefore be pausing the acceptance of such refugees for a very brief time — so brief, I’ll be honest, that I expect it to have a negligible effect on the program. We’re already in the process of inviting people with widely varying views on the matter — people with credibility among those who hold each viewpoint — to gather together to review our process and our projections. That review will be wide open to the public, and when it is done, we will adjust our policy or modify our process in a way that addresses valid concerns. We’ll also put out a brief report explaining how refugee review works and giving the American people some sense of who is in the pipeline now and whether that will change.
Personally, I have great confidence that the concern about these refugees is more a misunderstanding than a disagreement, so I expect we’ll move forward with the policy with little or no change. But we’ll have to see.
I’d probably want more than that, but such an approach would defuse a lot of the discord and address, not dismiss, Americans’ real and legitimate concerns.
Of course, seven years in, that ship has sailed for the Obama Administration. He staged some performances along those lines early on, but they were obviously for show. Just look at the party-line votes on ObamaCare, including one on Christmas Eve, followed by procedural tricks to pass it into law.