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Keep our nation great

| Monday, December 7, 2015

As a resident of Indiana and a member of the Notre Dame community, I do not see overwhelmingly credible evidence that Syrian refugees threaten our security. While I appreciate the caution shown by Gov. Pence and appreciate his desire to protect Hoosiers, the federal government already has an effective review protocol in place that vets refugees and ensures the safety of American citizens. According to a recent Cato Institute study, this process lasts on average 18 to 24 months and has successfully resettled 859,629 refugees into the United States since 2001. The number of these refugees with ties to an incident of domestic terrorism? Zero.

I fear Gov. Pence has conflated the actions of a single Syrian terrorist in Paris with the intentions of millions of Syrian refugees. Yes, what happened in Paris was awful, and I don’t want it to happen here. But we should not hold the actions of a single, deranged terrorist as representative of the many law-abiding, freedom-loving Syrians who desire peace and a safe home.

The majority of refugees welcomed into our country so far have been women, children and orphans, the most vulnerable groups in a humanitarian crisis. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, while horrifying, do not alter the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria that has forced millions of Syrians into migration. Yes, we must be vigilant in the face of terror, but by halting and reversing our welcome of these innocent human beings, we are not only playing into the fear ISIS desires to spread, we are also fundamentally betraying the ideals that have made our nation great throughout its history: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Thank you to Gov. Pence for valuing our safety, but it is time to make public policies based on facts, not fear. It is time for us to act on the values of compassion, mercy and hospitality that make our nation great.


James Strasburg

History PhD. candidate

Nov. 20

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  • Punta Venyage

    I think this is the kind of problem that has to be dealt with 100% accuracy; 99% is not good enough.

    With regards to the vetting process, we don’t have a proper database where we can query the information presented–information that is from an unstable regime where forged documents are fairly common.

    I would like to see the stat on women and children because I have seen the opposite; there are more men coming in. And even women can participate in terrorist attacks, as we have recently seen in the SB shootings.

    Wouldn’t it be better for us to help resettle the refugees in the Middle East, where they are closer to home and in a culture more akin to their own? Jordan has a very successful Syrian refugee program and they could use our financial support.

    • Mr. Pockets

      Oh come on, sales of guns aren’t restricted to people who we’re 100% certain will commit no crimes, prisoners aren’t held until we’re 100% certain that no crime will be committed, why are refugees held to such an absurd standard?

      • Punta Venyage

        The difference here is that you have a group of violent people who have stated that they WILL use these refugee channels to infiltrate and cause damage. This is a serious problem.

        I understand that you can help victims of a conflict on the other side of the planet (even though they would be much better off being relocated somewhere in the Middle East, where the culture is more familiar and they can have hope of returning to their home), however we must not compromise the safety of OUR people.

        We should prioritize OUR nation first and then help others, NOT the other way around. There is an excellent refugee program in Jordan, why don’t we support that? Let’s think of the most logical solution as opposed to picking a solution that superficially makes us feel better about ourselves.

  • Johnny Whichard

    “As a resident of Indiana and a member of the Notre Dame community, I do not see overwhelmingly credible evidence that Syrian refugees threaten our security.” Yeah. At least you admitted it. Why don’t you go talk to the family members of every slain American in San Bernadino? Or maybe go talk to the families in France who also lost loved ones.

    Btw, stop listening to the liberal media. According to the UN, the majority of refugees are men.


    • Johnny Whichard
      • Johnny Whichard

        What about this one, Jordan?

        • Jordan Pendleton

          Johnny, it’s an important possibility to consider. But the key point in the article seems to be that the Counterterrorism Center identified the individuals. These individuals were “attempting” to use refugee resettlement. Does that mean they were successful? In this case it does not. The system held up. It worked the way it was supposed to work.
          I also read through the CATO Institute study mentioned in the letter. CATO crunched the statistical odds of an ISIS terrorist utilizing the refugee resettlement system and calculated it at a 0.042 percent chance. Here’s the line: “Few ISIS soldiers or other terrorists are going to spend at least three years in a refugee camp for a 0.042 percent chance of entering the United States when almost any other option to do so is easier, cheaper, and quicker.”

      • João Pedro Santos

        “Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) revealed portions of a classified letter from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on Monday, which offered new claims not previously disclosed by the Obama administration.”
        Because we clearly should believe in Republicans, the ones who lead the US to an unncessary war because of WMD that didn’t exist.

        • Arafat

          This simplistic, broad-stroked, hyperbolic and disparaging (and poorly written) statement tells us more about our socialistic, Orwellian and Venezuelan friend than it tells us about Republicans.
          FD: I am no fan of republicans but at least they are more likely to be honest about the insidious religion of Islam than are the head-in-the-sand democrats.

          • João Pedro Santos

            What is “socialistic”? If you mean “socialist”, I’d like to tell you that Orwell (since you wrote “Orwellian”) was a socialist. Plus, calling me Venezuelan (which is in no way an insult) and using that to attack me is xenophobia. I’m reporting your post.
            “I am no fan of republicans but at least they are more likely to be honest about the insidious religion of Islam than are the head-in-the-sand democrats.”
            That is, you are no fan of Republicans but you believe in their lies.

    • Jordan Pendleton

      The link you’ve provided actually refers to refugees who have made it to Europe. Yes, it’s true that the majority of refugees fleeing to Europe are male. But the majority of refugees who are stationed in refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan are women and children. http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php UNCHR refers these refugees registered in refugee camps for resettlement in the US. The refugees considered for resettlement in the United States are overwhelmingly female and children.

    • João Pedro Santos

      In San Bernadino, the shooting occured precisely because the wife’s shooter allegedly had an affair with a muslim man. So the guilties aren’t neither Syrian refugees or Muslims but in fact an American islamophobe.

      • Arafat

        The Muslim San Bernadino killers were devout Muslims. Which is to say, like you, they believe their responsibility is to spread Islam through any means necessary. Their murderous jihadist action are considered hard or violent jihad; yours is considered soft or propagandist jihad.

  • Arafat

    “…unity, I do not see overwhelmingly credible evidence that Syrian refugees threaten our security.”

    You should probably open your eyes then. Three of the despicable Parisian murderers were Syrian refugees. But let’s all close our liberal lying eyes and pretend this is not so. Sound good?

    • João Pedro Santos

      “Three of the despicable Parisian murderers were Syrian refugees.”
      No, they were European citizens. Stop spreading lies. In fact, your other post contradicts this one.

      • Arafat

        “Five days before ISIS terrorists struck in Paris, I warned that ISIS operatives and war criminals were entering Europe disguised as asylum seekers. I quoted Salem Kurdi, who said in an interview with the Dutch TV news program EenVandaag that there are “war criminals and members of militias, Assad warriors as well as ISIS jihadists who apply for asylum in Europe.”

        There are now very strong indications that one of the Paris attackers entered Europe as an asylum seeker. Suicide bomber Ahmed Almohammad, who blew himself up near the football stadium “Stade de France,” entered the small Greek island of Leros on October 3, 2015 – on a raft together with 198 refugees. He was accompanied by Mohammed Almuhmed, another man suspected of terrorist links, the Paris newspaper Le Figaro andForocoches, a Spanish source, reported. Ahmed’s (forged?) Syrian passport was found near the place where he blew himself up on November 13.”

        • João Pedro Santos

          “Ahmed’s (forged?) Syrian passport was found near the place where he blew himself up on November 13.”
          You said it, forged passport. So there is no proof he was Syrian. You contradicted yourself again.

    • Arafat

      “Angela Merkel, David Cameron and the Pope all expressed their condolences — and “deep shock” — at the well-coordinated, citywide terror attacks in six different places across Paris, which as of this writing have claimed at least 128 lives and more than 200 wounded. French President François Hollande confirmed that Islamic State terrorists perpetrated the attacks, carried out with suicide bombings, hand grenades and assault rifles. According to witnesses, terrorists were heard yelling, “Allahu Akbar” [‘Allah is the Greatest”] and “this is for Syria” as they shot into the audience at the Bataclan Theater, where a rock concert was underway.”

  • Arafat

    “More than half the Islamists who attacked Paris on November 13 were Muslims born and raised in France. Mohamed Merah, the murderer of Jewish children in Toulouse in 2012, and those who attacked the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in January
    all were Muslims born and raised in France.”


    Tell us, Mr. Strasburg, how will you defend us against this?

    Your liberal ideals may make you feel better about yourself – although I sincerely doubt they really do – but they do not address the very real issue that Islam is unique among all the world’s religions in its affinity with violence against others. But, of course, it’s no skin off your back when Muslims mow down women and children you do not know and would have never met anyway.

    • João Pedro Santos

      “Born and raised in France”
      Therefore refugees aren’t to be blamed for the terrorist attacks.

      • Arafat

        I knew I could count on you to misunderstand this so let me explain it as simply as I can.
        1) Both first generation and second generation Muslims have been guilty of spreading hatred and acting out this hatred against our culture, values and our fellow civilians.
        2) But since we cannot adequately vet second generation Muslims (they might be not be conceived yet, or they may be fetuses or little children) how does Mr. Strasburg suggest we protect our civilians from this real threat?
        Strasburg speaks in simplistic ideals. That’s so easy to do. The devil, though, is in the details.

        • João Pedro Santos

          “1) Both first generation and second generation Muslims have been guilty of spreading hatred and acting out this hatred against our culture, values and our fellow civilians.”
          France needs no Muslim fanatics to spread hate. Jean Marie Le Pen and her daughter are very good in doing that by themselves.

          • Arafat

            You are changing the subject. It was devout Muslim who killed 130 people in France.
            And it was devout Muslims who just killed 14 in San Bernardino.
            And it was devout Muslims who killed 7 yesterday in Aden.
            And it was devout Muslims who killed 27 people two days ago in Chad.
            And it was devout Muslims who killed 9 people three days ago in Sanaa, Yemen.
            And it was devout Muslims who killed 25 people three days ago in Ramadi, Iraq.
            Meanwhile you are unable to address this hatred – hatred in the name of Allah – and change the topic to right-wing politicians in France.

          • João Pedro Santos

            But the article is about refugees and not about Muslim fanatics. Plus, Muslim fanatics only got power because of imperialist interventions. But trying to explain you that is like talking to a wall. In this case, a bigotred wall.

          • Arafat

            “Plus, Muslim fanatics only got power because of imperialist interventions.”
            Imperialism? LOL
            Is this why Muslim fanatics invaded Afghanistan 900 years ago conquered it and killed or forcibly converted EVERY SINGLE Buddhist in that country?
            Is this why Muslim fanatics invaded Constantinople (Christianity’s second most important seat) and renamed it Istanbul? Today Turkey is 99.7% Muslim. How’s that for Islam’s respect for diversity and for infidels?
            Is this why Muslim fanatics invaded southern Asia and killed 70 million Hindus in their centuries long conquest of that part of the world?
            Is this why Muslim fanatics dominated the black slave trade, far surpassing the Europeans in this?
            Is this why Muslim fanatics violently conquered northern Africa and why they wiped out all the tribesmen of that region?
            Seems to me the Muslim fanatics are the imperialists. You might ask the 3,000,000 Sudanese refugees who they think are the imperialists assuming you are even open to differing opinions.

          • João Pedro Santos

            So, how do you derail the topic?
            1- You talk about something that happened 900 years ago. What I don’t understand is how you complain about Islam atrocities in the Middle Ages but you seem to be ok with Christian atrocities.
            2 – Since you talk about the Ottoman Empire, I can also talk about what the Spanish empire did in Central and Southern America. Now most of Latin American countries are 99% Catholic because of that.
            3 – I’m still waiting for the sources or for the History books saying that Muslims killed 70 million Hindus. Or sources about “surpassing the Europeans in this”. As if one atrocity justified the other.
            4 – Are you sure you don’t wanna be again Sudanese refugees? Because you are against Syrian refugees and their situation isn’t that different from the Sudanese one. In both countries people are trying to escape religious fanatism and racist people like you prefer to attack those people.
            5 – Yes, what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan was because of imperialist intervention. There was no ISIS or Al Qaeda before the US started with its intervention in the Middle East.

          • Arafat

            We’re going in circles.
            One last time…
            When Christians kill they are sinning and are to be punished.
            When Muslims kill they are promised virgins in Paradise.
            The two religions could not be much more different.
            This does not mean there have not been tens of millions of Christians who have perverted Christ’s message, for any reasonable person would acknowledge as much. But what it does mean is that the same reasonable people would have to acknowledge Islam’s core tenets strongly promote violent jihad as a means of expanding the caliphate.
            The difference between you and I is I am a reasonable person, quick to acknowledge the endless sins of Christians, whereas you are a Muslim ideologue and like all Muslims are afraid of the apostasy punishments if you ever speak honestly and reasonably about Islam’s embrace of violence and supremacism over all infidels.

  • Jordan Pendleton

    Thank you for sharing this viewpoint. I’ve also been concerned about this issue. To me, it is not a liberal-conservative issue. It is fundamentally a theological issue. Many in the United States claim our country is a Christian nation. From a Christian perspective, I don’t think there is any rationale for not re-settling these Syrian refugees into our country. I was grateful to see our university take an official stance in favor of refugee resettlement: http://news.nd.edu/news/62847-on-thanksgiving-welcome-syrian-refugees-to-america/ and to see the courage shown by religious agencies to not back down on resettling refugees.