Rabat – In response to the Paris attacks, the United States House of Representative voted to pass a bill that would make it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees enter the country. Though the current vetting process already can take up to two years, refugees will now have to go through yet another step before they are granted safe haven on American soil. As the current process stands, only about 50 percent of refugee applicants are approved, according to BBC.
The bill in question requires that the nation’s top three security officials, the Homeland Security Secretary, the FBI director and the national intelligence director, certify that each Syrian or Iraqi refugee is not a security threat. It was approved on a 289-137 vote, with 47 Democrats breaking with the White House to support it. President Obama has threatened to veto it.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch called the screening impractical, saying it would “effective grind the [refugee] program to a halt.”
Proponents of the bill say refugees could post a threat to national security.
“We are a nation at war,” Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who introduced the bill along with Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) told USA Today.“The streets of Paris could just as easily have been the streets of New York, Chicago, Houston or Los Angeles… We must take decisive action to show the American people that we are doing all we can to protect them.”
However, what seems to be overlooked is the fact that the most dangerous security risks are not queuing at our borders trying to sneak in—they are already here.
Since September 11, 2001 non-Muslim extremists have killed twice as many people as Muslim radicals, according to an international security report. The report found that in this time frame, 48 were killed by non-Muslim extremists in attacks such as the Charleston church shooting that left nine people dead. However, this report does not even account for attacks that were not backed by any apparent ideologies such as the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Col. and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting that occurred in the same year in Newtown, Conn.
“With non-Muslims, the media bends over backward to identify some psychological traits that may have pushed them over the edge,” said Abdul Cader Asmal, a retired physician and a longtime spokesman for Muslims in Boston, in an article for the New York Times. “Whereas if it’s a Muslim, the assumption is that they must have done it because of their religion.”
That being said, ‘religion’ itself is a very subjective concept. One Muslim’s Islam might look very different from another’s. Radical Muslims are in no way representative of Muslims as a whole. The same can be said of the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group that lynched countless African Americans in the name of Christianity.
In addition, keeping refugees out of our borders seems counterintuitive to the very principles our country was founded on. Didn’t the Puritans seek a life in the New World to escape religious persecution they were facing in Europe, as did many other groups of people to come after them? Believe it or not, but Muslims terrorists kill more Muslims than non-Muslims.
“In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years,” according to a 2011 report by the National Counterterrorism Center.
Additionally, according to the White House, since September 11, 2001, 2,174 Syrian refugees have entered the country and guess how many have been arrested or deported on terrorism-related grounds? None.
Syrian and Iraqi refugees are trying to get away from violent extremism. They are just as scared, if not more so, than we are of these threats because, they have most likely seen firsthand the carnage it causes. So are we, as a nation, going to turn our back on the thousands of people in need? Breeding hatred and fear is what groups like ISIS want, so now more than ever us citizens of the world need to stand together, not shut each other out.