When we say or do anything that suggests we are anti-Islam, or that we want to ban all Muslims from our country, we feed right into the recruiting strategy of the terrorists. They benefit from any action we take that gives them an opening to reinforce their narrative and justify their tactics to new (and future) recruits. I know, for example, when Governor Jeb Bush was running for President, he tried to choose words that reflect an appropriate approach while not offending his party base. Although, his idea to take in only Christians from Syria not only proved to be hard to explain in any follow-up questions but also sends the wrong message to those we are trying to defeat. Now is the time to engage our Muslim friends and partners, both in our communities and around the world, to help address this mutual threat—rather than further alienate the very people we need as allies in this global struggle.
As we all work to be more understanding of all this, there are a couple of facts we need to keep in mind. One, there is an established screening process in place with successful experience that takes from one to three years to clear any refugee for entrance into the United States. They will not be shortly coming on boats, arriving at our shores, and casually entering our country. Secondly, a large degree of the threat—and some of the most recent attacks—in the United States have come from “homegrown” terrorists. That doesn’t mean this can’t change, but shifting our position on refugees will not only fail to prevent these types of attacks within our borders but will more than likely be counterproductive to the cause at large. However, it would make good sense for the Congress to review our current program for screening refugees seeking asylum, make any sound changes, and most importantly, make sure it is funded to the level needed to do the job correctly.