President Barack Obama has seen the enemy, and it is the refusal to accept more Syrian refugees.
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 U.S. against taking more Syrian refugees is an atrocity.
Obama warned this week 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. There are roughly 10 million Syrians who are refugees (4.2 million) or internally displaced (6.5 million). At 10,000 over the next year, we are offering to take .1 percent of them.
One wonders when Obama begin caring so much about Syrians. 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, or would they just be part of 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 fact is that, since our resources aren’t limitless, we are constantly slamming the door in the faces of refugees, as the president puts it. According to the World Bank, there were 2.5 million Afghan refugees in 2014; according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, in fiscal year 2014 we took 758 of them. There were 616,000 from South Sudan; we took 52 of them. There were 410,000 from the Central African Republic; we took 25 of them.
What’s the balance between prudential considerations — cost, security, assimilation — and American-ness?
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 U.S., already dealing with a steady migrant flow from south of the border, needn’t become part of the bidding for Syrian refugees.
Resources that would be devoted to resettlement 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 — established by refugee resettlement and expanded with chain migration — 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 the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2015 King Features Syndicate