When I served as ambassador to Iraq, I witnessed how the slow pace of processing left Iraqi refugees—including many who worked for the U.S. military—stranded in danger. Some died waiting for visas. That’s why the Obama administration should commit to resettling 100,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
This is not an unmanageable security risk to U.S. citizens, as the governors and others have alleged. The U.S.’s vigorous screening process involves vetting from multiple security agencies. Refugees are also interviewed abroad by officers from the Department of Homeland Security before they are approved for resettlement. No population entering the U.S. is more closely examined than refugees.
The administration can hasten the process without weakening security by simply directing security agencies to devote more time and staff to the task. Congress should support this move, as it would quell concerns about terrorism.
This is in America’s interest. Increased assistance would protect the stability of a region home to U.S. allies, including Jordan, NATO’s Turkey and Lebanon, all of which are hosting refugees.