Thursday, November 19, 2015

As a young man I frequently traveled via thumb. I would stand roadside, stick out my thumb and depend on the good will of total strangers to get me from point A to point B. My hometown was about a two-hour drive from my college and transportation humanitarians helped me traverse that distance many times.

When I graduated college, started my career path and had a reliable vehicle, I became the giver. I regularly gave rides to hitchhikers. My parents and many friends warned against the practice but my staple response was “What kind of a world would it be if I can’t stop and help my fellow man?” My youthful thought process was that the risk was so small and my own judgement was so strong, the balance of helping others was a higher priority than some remote chance of injury.

It was amazing how quickly that mode of thinking disappeared when my son was born. I was responsible for that wonderful tiny little life tucked safely into his car seat in the back. If there was the slightest sliver of a chance that his life would be endangered I wouldn’t even slow down, let alone pick up a stranger. No rational parent would stop and pick up a hitchhiker with their child in the car.

Much like a parent, the President of the United States top priority is the safety of those lives he is responsible for. The difference is that he has 300 million such “children”. The President’s job, before anything else, is to assure all US citizens are safe.

The question of bringing Syrian refugees to the United States is very similar to the decision whether or not to pick up a hitchhiker. It has been reported at least one of the terrorists in Paris was masquerading as a Syrian refugee. Look at the carnage that occurred as a result. Is it possible that one or more Syrian refugees welcomed into the US would actually be ISIS terrorists intent on causing harm?

Of course it is.

No parent would pick up a hitchhiker. Likewise the President should pause any refugee program from the Islamic State region in the Middle East.

The talking points stressed by the entire Obama administration push the “robust vetting process” that refugees will be put through. That sounds impressive…until you inquire exactly what that robust process is. We’re told our intelligence agencies match up would-be refugees names and fingerprints in their data bases. The real question is, match-up against what? Against Syrian intel? There is virtually no such thing, and even if there was, how reliable would an Assad government intelligence report be? Would you bet your child’s life on it?

The honest answer is there is nothing to match the names and fingerprints against. You and I could set up a card table in our garage, look at the refugees information and come to an equally accurate conclusion. The claims of reliable and robust vetting are an insult to the American people.

Toss in the fact that it costs 12 times as much to transport and settle a Syrian refugee in the United States as it does to settle them in a neighboring country in the Middle East and one has to wonder why we wouldn’t help 12 times as many people and simultaneously minimize any risk to our own citizens. The choice isn’t whether to bring folks to America or to ignore them. The choice is how and where to help them. The correct answer is to offer help…in their own region.

Despite the fact most riders would be appreciative nice folks, there isn’t a single person reading this column that would suggest a parent take a chance in picking up a hitchhiker while her child is in the car. That same crystal clear logic must apply when considering the Syrian refugee program. Most are likely fine people seeking a better life, but why would we take even that same small chance of endangering American lives from that deadly minority that wish us harm.

More than 30 governors understand that. President Obama should too.

Stay safe. Don’t pick up hitchhikers, not those on the interstate and certainly not those in Syria.

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