Since the tragic Paris attacks that occurred last week, the political world has talked of little else. Yesterday, in a vote of 289 to 137, the House of Representatives passed a bill in favor of tightening screenings and security procedures of any Syrian refugee attempting to enter the United States, for fear of more acts of terrorism. Under the bill, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the director of national intelligence, and the director of the FBI would be required to screen each Syrian applicant to ensure the safety of U.S. citizens.
While the Senate still must vote on the bill, the White House has already promised that President Obama will veto the bill if it reaches him. The bill is in opposition to his moral plea for sympathy towards Syrian citizens attempting to flee to safety. Those in favor of the House bill consisted of both Democrats and Republicans. “Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values,” Obama tweeted after the news of the bill’s passing broke. “That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.”
Obama added that the entire process of conducting a refugee screening is already very high security and takes nearly two years. “That somehow [refugees] pose a more significant threat than all the tourists who pour into the United States every single day just doesn’t jibe with reality,” he said. Governors in many states have already declared that they will not welcome Syrian refugees.
Democrats seem to be on both sides of the issue. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democratic Representative from New York who supports the bill, told the New York Times: “I started out strongly opposed to it. But then I read the bill and realized that what it actually required was simple certification. My back and forth with them was to make sure I wasn’t missing something.”
The bill is set to be brought to the Senate after the Thanksgiving recess. Democratic senator Harry Reid of Nevada has promised that it will not be passed. This seems to be a very morally complex issue that has divided many—the chances of a refugee posing a threat to the United States are probably very low, if we follow President Obama’s way of thinking. Even so, a safety risk is a safety risk—but we’d also be risking jeopardizing the safety of thousands of innocent refugees for the sake of avoiding a threat that may have never even existed.