Politics is expediency wrapped in a flag and served with cow manure. So we shouldn’t be surprised when many Democratic congressmen who supported banning Syrian refugees do an about-face and now support welcoming them with open arms.
The thinking in Washington and much of the U.S. following the terrorist attacks in Paris was that common sense should prevail and refugees from Syria and Iraq should be banned from entering the country until more stringent and thorough vetting procedures were put in place. The House vote occurred on November 20, with 47 Democrats joining all Republicans in voting for the measure.
But a letter being circulated by two Democrats this weekend, and signed by no fewer than 26 of the 47 Democratic supporters of banning the refugees, wants to keep the refugee ban out of the omnibus spending bill that will be voted on next week to keep the government running past December 11.
At least 26 of the 47 Democrats who supported the measure have signed on to a letter urging House Speaker Paul Ryan not to include it in a must-pass omnibus spending bill likely to be voted on in the coming days, according to groups helping arrange the missive.
The lawmakers assert that the U.S. has an obligation to help people seeking refuge from violence and persecution. They also reject measures being floated that would defund the U.S. refugee resettlement program, arguing that “funds available for the vetting and placement of refugees should be increased to ensure a thorough and expeditious process.”
“We should all agree that inserting wholesale changes to refugee admission policies into a year-end spending bill—where they cannot be properly debated or amended—is not the appropriate way to consider these issues,” the letter states.
The lawmakers, however, don’t say in the letter if they are willing to vote against the omnibus spending bill if the refugee legislation ultimately winds up in it.
At least 84 Democrats total had signed the letter as of Friday evening, with more expected by Sunday night. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) who voted for the initial House bill, is helping spearhead the drive for signatures. Others who voted for the House bill but signed the letter include Reps. Steve Israel of New York and Ron Kind of Wisconsin.
“The initial House vote was simply a knee-jerk reaction in response to the Paris terror attacks,” said Yasmine Taeb, a lobbyist with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker group that helped organize the letter. “We are a nation of immigrants and it is simply unacceptable for our elected officials to turn their backs on innocent women, men, and children fleeing violence and persecution.”
These aren’t “immigrants” and the whole question of whether they are “innocent” or not is the point of the legislation. We don’t know. And given the vetting procedures we’re currently using, we aren’t likely to be able to weed out all the terrorists.
But that’s the difference between the Democrats and us. They see the possibility of terrorist infiltration as an acceptable risk. We don’t — especially when we can do a lot better job in determining who might be dangerous. The Democrats have the advantage in knowing that they’ll never be the victims of a terror attack, so they’re perfectly willing to risk the lives of you and your family to score political points against their opponents.
Cowardly Democrats who are backing off their original, common-sense position should have their feet held to the fire by voters next November.