Best Way to Truly Help Syrian refugees?

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Who would you trust: The man who called ISIS “junior varsity” or the experts warning that the government is ill-equipped to screen people? Congress’s answer is fairly simple. Sensing the urgency, GOP leaders are racing to put measures in place that protect our communities from gut-wrenching scenes like Paris’s. Under a new bill from Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) that passed the House earlier today, the FBI and Director of National Intelligence would have to sign off on every application, certifying that the refugees aren’t a security request.

Sounds reasonable, right? Not to the president’s team. Too “cumbersome” complained Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “Unnecessary and impractical” grumbled the Office of Management and Budget. “Untenable” argued the White House. “People understand the plight of those fleeing the Middle East,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) countered. “But they also want basic assurances for the safety of this country. We can be compassionate, and we can also be safe.”

That’s a message the church is increasingly in need of. In a rush of goodwill, Christians are anxious to reach out and help those in need. Obviously, those are good intentions — loving the sojourner, as Deuteronomy talks about — but they aren’t the only consideration. There’s this false narrative, one that the president has encouraged, that insists there are only two options in the refugee crisis: give Syrians unfettered access to America or leave orphans and widows dying in the street.

That’s just not true. There are several ways to help the hurting that leave our nation less vulnerable to attack. We could provide humanitarian support directly to displaced people currently in refugee camps in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and elsewhere. We could also help the government of Kurdistan care for those who are displaced by providing financial and/or other resources for the current camps — and ensure more are built if needed. And what’s more compassionate than taking military action to defeat ISIS? Most people want to stay in their homelands of Iraq and Syria, but they’re unable to because ISIS has been allowed to grow. It’s not unfeeling to help in these ways, but it is wise.

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