Governor Paul LePage is right to reject Syrian refugees

The headline alone probably sparked enough outrage, but let’s follow along. The Syrian refugee debate has been a heated one in the aftermath of the Paris attacks. Conservatives have raised concerns about ISIS utilizing the refugee programs to sneak terrorists into targeted areas, while Republican Governors are lining up to refuse refugees into their states. Liberals, on the other hand, declare this to be racist and xenophobic.

Realistically though, leftwing critics are putting politics before their country.

After a number of governors recently stated they would refuse to accept Syrian refugees, Governor Paul LePage stated he would not allow Maine to accept them either.

As reported yesterday by Bangor Daily News:

LePage joined other Republican governors in condemning President Barack Obama’s goal of accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, saying to do so “without knowing who they are is to invite an attack on American soil just like the one we saw in Paris last week.”

Is this over the top? Not so much.

In a recent article I quoted an article from the Guardian, which noted some disturbing elements of the Syrian refugee program in relation to the Paris terrorist attacks:

One of the most chilling details from the Paris attacks is that the passport of a Syrian refugee was found on or near the body of a dead suicide bomber. The Greek government has subsequently said that someone using the passport was among the refugees who landed in the Greek islands in early October, and the Serbian government says the passport was again used to cross its southern border a few days later.

This development has increased fears of Isis infiltrators among the thousands of desperate refugees arriving in Europe. Allies of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, have voiced security concerns over her open-door policy and one, the Bavarian finance minister Markus Söder, told a German newspaper: “The days of uncontrolled immigration and illegal entry can’t continue just like that. Paris changes everything.”

BuzzFeed News also talked to an ISIS operative in January about their strategy, which has recently been fulfilled in Paris and surely will continue:

An ISIS operative traveled across the Syrian border late last year, settled in a Turkish port city, and began work on a mission to sneak jihadis into Europe. It has been successful, he said, in an interview near the Turkey-Syria border: “Just wait.”

The operative, a Syrian in his thirties with a close-cropped black beard, said ISIS is sending covert fighters to Europe — as did two smugglers who said they have helped. He smuggles them from Turkey in small groups, he said, hidden in cargo ships filled with hundreds of refugees. He said the fighters intend to fulfill ISIS’s threat to stage attacks in the West. He views this as retaliation for U.S.-led airstrikes against the group that began in Iraq last summer and Syria last fall. “If someone attacks me,” he said, speaking with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity, “then for sure I will attack them back.”

This seems to affirm what BuzzFeed News reported a year ago, when it spoke to veteran smuggler regarding the issue:

The smuggler, who has been given the pseudonym Hassan here, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News that since the summer he has sent more than 10 Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters into Europe.

Hassan’s claim was impossible to verify — and Western officials said they’d seen no evidence that such a scenario was taking place. His testimony, plus that of a second human trafficker who offered a similar account, marked the first time someone claiming direct involvement has said publicly that such a plan is underway.

Impossible to verify until the brutal Paris terrorist attacks.

Governor LePage, who stated he’s concerned for Maine’s safety, echoed Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, who stated his “view on this is the safety and security of the people of the Commonwealth of Mass” was his highest priority, which explains why he’s “set the bar very high on this.”

Critics have slammed those opposed to currently accepting Syrian refugees as being xenophobic, though not a single liberal answered a Twitter question from Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage:

Is Governor Hassan, D-New Hampshire, xenophobic as well?

We could ask Senator Justin Alfond, who has rushed to rhetoric on the issue. In a release from Maine Senate Democrats, he stated:

“Gov. LePage’s comments are morally repugnant. Our allies in France, and the world, are still reeling from the terrorist attacks on Paris and the governor is already using those attacks to promote his shallow, anti-immigrant agenda,” Sen. Alfond said. “This kind of brazen opportunism is indefensible. The governor is purposefully conflating terrorists with the people they are terrorizing. Families in Syria face not only a brutal civil war, but the daily threat of attacks from the very same terrorists that targeted Paris. To say those families are not welcome in Maine is unconscionable.”

Senator Alfond’s motives clearly lack regard for American safety. Furthermore, he’s apparently lived under a rock since Paris. Regardless, it’s not surprising at all that he would use a serious policy discussion as another point to rip Governor LePage over.

Governor LePage, like many others who are concerned about the refugee programs, have not “demonized” refugees, as that same Maine Senate Democrat release claimed. The reality of the situation is, however, that ISIS is using these programs to sneak terrorists into their target areas and are doing so successfully. The solution isn’t as easy as simply stating we should screen them, because we’ve tried that before.

It’s a safety concern and a legitimate one. And while my heart breaks for what the Syrian refugees are enduring, we have to be smart about how we approach any sensitive situation. This one included.

As ABC News reported, at least one of the suicide bombers was an ISIS terrorist who posed as a Syrian refugee and exploited the program to gain entry into Paris.

With ISIS now claiming triple digit victims in Paris with many more wounded, as well as 224 people on a Russian plane, how many American lives is Senator Justin Alfond willing to let get indiscriminately murdered in order to score simple political points against the Governor?

Chris Dixon

About Chris Dixon

Chris Dixon is a libertarian-leaning writer. In addition to writing "Undercover Porcupine", he is also the Managing Editor for The Liberty Conservative and writes for Cleat Geeks and Medium.