How should the United States and other countries react to the current refugee crisis? As we read and watch stories of families, women and children in particular, fleeing the violence, death, and hunger in Syria, we see an obvious and evident need to provide meaningful humanitarian service to include a place of refuge. Yet, in light of the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris and the possibility of terrorists making it into the the US on the coattails of refugees, it makes the safety and security of the homeland a legitimate concern.
How do we provide needed humanitarian relief while ensuring the safety and security of our homes and families? Does our own security outweigh the plight of all of those refugees who now have only their lives to lose? Do we freely open our borders to 10,000, to 100,000, or to more without question? Do we shut our borders and allow none of those from Syria into our country?
I believe we can retain our humanity and help without being reckless with our security, but it will take caution, patience, and understanding. We need to observe closely what has happened in Paris. Did those terrorists truly come into Europe with the Syrian refugees? If so, how did they do it? Can we prevent something similar from happening here?
We need our government to explain to us in sufficient detail, while maintaining necessary operational security, how they will vet refugees coming into the United States. Where are they coming from before they enter the US? What is the vetting process and demographic parameters? What will we do to keep track of refugees once they enter the country? Our government should provide us a review of the success and failures of previous refugee relocation programs.
We need to think about and discuss how we can best help any refugees who will be relocated into the US. Where do we place them? What assistance do we provide? Is it good to provide them employment opportunities or should they not be allowed to work in order to protect jobs for Americans? How long do we allow them to stay? How long have we allowed other refugees to stay? What is the cost of bringing them in and how will we pay for the program?
We need to avoid making judgements based solely on race, ethnicity, and religion. Refusing help and engaging in hateful dialogue will only make such problems worse and more widespread. I believe we will be playing into the terrorists hands if we engage in such behavior. Too many people in this country and throughout the world don't understand the methodology of terrorists. Violence and fear are not the aim of the thoughtful and resourceful terrorist. Rather the terror and violence are aimed at eliciting certain responses from various groups. One common response that terrorists seek is an increase in hate and decrease in trust. Much of the dialogue we are seeing today is playing into that desired response.
But again, at the same time, we cannot label caution as ill-aimed hate and fear.
A wise response has room for humanity and patience, but it requires a good degree of transparency. Let's develop a well-thought out assistance and relocation plan and take the time to do it right. Let's set aside the hateful dialogue. Let's demand that our government provide us answers and explanations for what will happen without simply lecturing us.
Our biggest challenge is and will be the unwillingness of Americans to set aside political agendas, hate, fear, and uncertainty.