Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) said public opinion is shifting toward supporting the resettlement of the 10,000 Syrian refugees the Obama administration is seeking to allow in the U.S.
“I spoke out against my home state governor’s calls to not take Syrian refugees and at the time it was an unpopular position – just a couple weeks ago. There’s been extensive polling on that in Massachusetts and somewhere in the range of 60-70 percent of folks were against accepting refugees when the governor first said he was opposed to it himself. Not only has the governor now been coming around to my position but recent polling shows people in Massachusetts have been, as well,” Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, said on a conference call.
“Once people understand the vetting process is strict and it has been successful in the past, and once people really think about the national security implications of a policy change, I think folks will see those who support the continued resettlement of refugees are on the right side of this issue and, of course, on the right side if history. But it’s going to take some time and education.”
Moulton, who served in the Marine Corps before running for Congress, argued that turning away refugees serves as a recruiting tool for ISIS and puts America at risk.
“What ISIS is doing is really focusing as an organization on recruiting folks through the Internet overseas and radicalizing folks right here at home. It’s actually quite a different model than what we have seen from terrorist organizations in the past,” he said.
“Al-Qaeda was a much more traditional terrorist model where they achieved a lot of success with their training camps overseas and then infiltrating folks into societies they want to attack. That’s not to say ISIS won’t try to do that as well, but clearly their main mode of operating is to radicalize folks through the Internet.”
Moulton urged Congress and the public to embrace refugees from the Middle East as a way to combat ISIS.
“By passing legislation and by speaking out against Muslims or refugees, we’re actually just playing right into their hands in terms of strengthening their ability to do that because alienating folks here at home makes it much easier to radicalize,” Moulton said.
“It’s also really important for our national security that given the particular threat that ISIS poses that we are especially open to refugees and open to Muslims here at home, because not doing that ISIS will use against us.”
Moulton explained some Democrats in Congress have had “buyer’s remorse” for initially supporting a pause to the Syrian refugee program following the terror attacks in Paris.
“Democrats who voted for it have experienced second thoughts,” he said.
Moulton’s office did not answer follow-up questions on the Syrian refugee issue.