Here’s Why We Should Take More Syrian Refugees after Paris, Not Fewer


As of this writing, nine fourteen twenty 27 state governors have issued executive orders or unilaterally proclaimed that their state will no longer accept refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war and Daesh terrorism there. Nevermind that states don’t really have a say in the matter, since accepting refugees is an immigration and foreign policy power exclusively granted to the federal government. The sudden protectionism in the wake of the coordinated attacks on fun in Paris isn’t surprising, but it is exactly the wrong response.

As a timely post at the libertarian Niskanen Center makes crystal clear, there are several good reasons that the US should continue accepting refugees and not abandon desperate, hopeless people because of fear.

1. The Paris attackers were not refugees. [ed: additional link added]

2. U.S. refugees don’t become terrorists.

3. Other migration channels are easier to exploit than the U.S. refugee process.

4. [Daesh] sees Syrian refugees as traitors.

5. Turning away allies will make us less safe.

6. America should demonstrate moral courage.

Those are all very good reasons, backed up with significant historical data. I encourage everyone to read the entire post. It addresses most of the arguments against refugee intake that I’ve seen over the last few days.

But there are at least two additional, equally important reasons we shouldn’t shut our doors to refugees of Islamist violence.

They want us to. One of Daesh’s central aims in their campaign for an Islamist caliphate is to destroy the “greyzone”, the global community of mainstream Muslims standing between the West and the (non-)caliphate’s dominance. They want the West to turn against Islam collectively so that Muslims have no choice but to join their radical death cult. The more we profile and discriminate against Muslims, reject their pleas for aid and asylum, and proclaim this a “War on Islam” or “crusade” or “clash of civilizations”, the more we give Daesh, Al Qaeda, and all the rest exactly what they want.

Think of it this way: Every refugee we turn away effectively negates a terrorist kill by a US bombing mission.

And US bombing missions are the other reason we should accept Syrian refugees. To the extent that the military campaign against Daesh doesn’t target empty buildings, it is worth waging. However, it also has unintended consequences that, again, play right into our enemy’s hands. Almost every time we bomb terrorists, we also (and sometimes only) kill innocent civilians. In fact the current drone war in Afghanistan has killed 90% civilians and only 10% suspected terrorists. If that’s acceptable collateral damage, the term no longer has meaning.

But more than being morally repugnant, civilian deaths from above in the war on terror actually create terrorists. Daesh, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups use civilian deaths as marketing tools to recruit the already devastated local populations to their cause. If we refuse refugees fleeing this kind of terror and war in their home countries, they are both more likely to die in that violence and, if they survive, more likely to be recruited by Daesh itself. Bringing Syrian refugees here instead decreases the chance for collateral damage in our campaign against Daesh and also eliminates their recruitment pool of survivors.

Needless to say, it also exposes people accustomed to only oppression, violence, and death to the world’s original and best source of liberty, opportunity, and human rights. Importing freedom-seeking people probably works better than exporting freedom anyway.

Fear is easy. Hope is hard. We should show the world which is worth it.

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