As you can imagine, Secretary of State John Kerry is a busy man. He’s flying all over the world to hold diplomatic talks with various heads of state because that’s his job. But now he has another job: the job of redundant explainer of the Syrian refugee screening process to the slow, the fact-challenged, and the fearful.
In the wake of the Obama administration’s announcement that we would be increasing our acceptance of Syrian refugees from 1,682 in fiscal year 2015 to 10,000 in fiscal year 2016, Governors like Scott Walker (R-WI) issued meaningless but stern refusals to Syrian refugees based on a false belief that there is no vetting process.
Walker believes, for example, “It has become apparent there are not proper security procedures in place to appropriately background and accurately ascertain the identities of those entering our country through the Syrian refugee program.”
How this has become apparent to the man whose failure to grasp foreign policy — even at the frayed edges — contributed to his early drop out as a presidential candidate is anyone’s guess. I’ll go with right wing blogs for $100.00.
Thus, Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson were forced to send letters (published Monday but issued Friday) to all state governors and to the mayor of D.C., even after the White House already had a phone call with governors around the country during which they explained the procedures. Which were already laid out in multiple places on the web, which is still open and even free to use. Nothing like a little government waste.
Kerry had to explain again which refugees are getting priority (hint: it’s not the terrorists):
“It is important to note that the overwhelming majority of Syrian refugees we have accepted and will accept are families, victims of torture, and children… A very small proportion of these refugees have been, or will be, adult males who are not accompanied by children nor joining families in the U.S., and those adult males who are accepted will generally be especially vulnerable adults, such as survivors of torture, LGBT individuals, or those with disabilities.”
By all means, we should refuse to open our doors as even France opens its doors to Syrian refugees. After all, nothing says giving in to terrorism like turning our backs on orphans and disabled refugees of terrorism.
Republican governors are pretending that the House bill that President Obama dropped the veto hammer on would make security stronger, when in fact it is not only redundant but its true goal appears to opponents to be to ban all refugees from entering the country in what Republicans are calling a “pause.”
The Obama administration said of the GOP bill, “This legislation would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.”
Oh, so unnecessary and impractical. Sounds about right for the House, where they clearly think they know national security better than the DHS, DOD, and FBI, in spite of their repeated leaking of classified information from their Benghazi witch hunts. Okay then.
Kerry reminded governors that our screening process for Syrian refugees is the most robust process, “It is the most robust screening process for any category of individuals seeking admissions into the United States… Additional precautions have been added with regard to Syrian refugees.”
Republicans (and a few Democrats) are desperately whipping up fear and then trying to play Big Man on Campus by demanding stronger screenings, when they don’t seem to be aware of the actual existing process, let alone the fact that their “more rigorous” screening suggestions are redundant at best, and wasteful and showboaty at worst.
Republicans can’t let an opportunity to waste government resources while bad-mouthing Obama and instilling panic in the public just pass them by. Nope. Every tragedy is fodder for fear, dirt, and mud.
Next up: The Obama administration forced to publish “Syrian Refugees for Dummies” booklet to be passed around D.C. with high hopes.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.