State and federal politicians across the U.S. have called for a block on Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks on Paris, saying it opens the country to unnecessary risks.
But about 2,200 refugees fleeing the violence in Syria have already been admitted into the United States, and officials point out that their screening process is much stricter than those applied to other people — tourists or workers, for example — who regularly enter the United States.
Worries about accepting refugees were stoked by reports that one of the suicide bombers in Paris, Ahmad Almohammad, carried a Syrian passport suggesting that took the Greek route now favored by Syrian migrants. French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told NBC News that she doubted the authenticity of the passport, but many said it showed that terrorists from the so-called Islamic State sought to exploit the asylum being granted by the West.
"Our nation has always been welcoming, but we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it's better to be safe rather than to be sorry," House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday. "So we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population."