Vice President Joe Biden blasted Republicans with the argument that they are playing into the terrorists’ hands and making America less safe by trying to exploit fear for political gain.
The Vice President said:
This past week we’ve seen the best and the worst of humanity. The heinous terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut, in Iraq and Nigeria. They showed us once again the depths of the terrorist’s depravity.
And at the same time we saw the world come together in solidarity. Parisians opening their doors to anyone trapped in the street, taxi drivers turning off their meters to get people home safely, people lining up to donate blood. These simple human acts are a powerful reminder that we cannot be broken and in the face of terror we stand as one. In the wake of these terrible events, I understand the anxiety that many Americans feel. I really do. I don’t dismiss the fear of a terrorist bomb going off. There’s nothing President Obama and I take more seriously though, than keeping the American people safe.
In the past few weeks though, we’ve heard an awful lot of people suggest that the best way to keep America safe is to prevent any Syrian refugee from gaining asylum in the United States.
So let’s set the record straight how it works for a refugee to get asylum. Refugees face the most rigorous screening of anyone who comes to the United States. First they are finger printed, then they undergo a thorough background check, then they are interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security. And after that the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center, the Department of Defense and the Department of State, they all have to sign off on access.
And to address the specific terrorism concerns we are talking about now, we’ve instituted another layer of checks just for Syrian refugees. There is no possibility of being overwhelmed by a flood of refugees landing on our doorstep tomorrow. Right now, refugees wait 18 to 24 months while the screening process is completed. And unlike in Europe, refugees don’t set foot in the United States until they are thoroughly vetted.
Let’s also remember who the vast majority of these refugees are: women, children, orphans, survivors of torture, people desperately in need medical help.
To turn them away and say there is no way you can ever get here would play right into the terrorists’ hands. We know what ISIL – we know what they hope to accomplish. They flat-out told us.
They want us to turn our backs on Muslims victimized by terrorism. But this gang of thugs peddling a warped ideology, they will never prevail. The world is united in our resolve to end their evil. And the only thing ISIL can do is spread terror in hopes that we will in turn, turn on ourselves. We will betray our ideals and take actions, actions motivated by fear that will drive more recruits into the arms of ISIL. That’s how they win. We win by prioritizing our security as we’ve been doing. Refusing to compromise our fundamental American values: freedom, openness, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s how we win.
Vice President Biden was correct. The American people have seen this movie before. After 9/11, the Bush administration gave al-Qaeda exactly what it wanted by sending US troops to Iraq. ISIL wants the United States to be afraid, and to send hundreds of thousands of young men and women to Syria and Iraq.
Republicans are peddling the same fear-based policies that got the US into Iraq. Sending US ground troops back to the Middle East while denying refugees from ISIL sanctuary would provide the terrorist with a ready-made propaganda and recruitment campaign.
The best way to keep America safe is to form a global coalition dedicated to defeating ISIL. The attack in Paris was not a sign of strength, but a symbol of weakness. ISIL is losing ground in Iraq and Syrian, so they have turned to terrorism.
Repeating the mistakes of the past is not an answer for the future.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association