By Joan McCarthy Lasonde-
The United States recently met its target of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees. My opponent for the U.S. Congress, Jan Schakowsky, supports expanding that number to “at least” 100,000, a tenfold increase. President Obama also recently endorsed an additional 11,000.
Either way, that would be a horrible mistake.
First, I have a different priority: Americans who deserve help. We have homeless veterans and others living under ‘L’ lines here in my Ninth District of Illinois. Tent cities for homeless Americans have become so common that Wikipedia now catalogs them by name.
In Chicago, over 20,000 public school students go homeless along with their families. 2,622 of them are homeless without family, which means they’re out there all alone. Yet, we have only 300 beds to offer homeless children in the city.
As a foster Mom, I’ve seen firsthand the suffering children like that face. I just cannot support telling them we have a different priority. Charity begins at home.
Second, ISIS has bragged, and our defense officials have confirmed, that terrorists are infiltrating the ranks of Syrian refugees. To repeat Europe’s mistake of admitting more refugees than we can assimilate safely would be madness.
Third, while most are not a security risk, assimilation into the job market has failed horribly. In Germany, more than half of Syrian refugees are unemployed, despite a strong economy there.
Finally, there’s this stunning mystery in our Syrian refugee program: The United States bars Christian, not Muslim, refugees from Syria. A recent article published by the Council on Foreign Relations documents the facts. Somewhere between a half million and a million Syrian Christians have fled Syria. Ten percent of its population is Christian. Yet, only 56 of the 10,801 Syrian refugees recently admitted to America are Christian. Why? We don’t know yet, but something is obviously wrong in our selection and vetting process.
Our compassion for refugees shouldn’t be denied, but it should be directed differently. Turkey has the right idea for the near term — a huge safe zone in Syria. It announced this week that it will create a safe zone in Syria the size of the Grand Canyon. We should support that effort.
Longer term, the real solution for Syria is peace, allowing its refugees to return home. Towards that end, a nice start would be if the Obama Administration would explain clearly to America who we are fighting for, who we are fighting against and for what goal. The public sure doesn’t know.
Joan McCarthy Lasonde is the 2016 Republican candidate for Congress in the Ninth District of Illinois.