Less than a week after ISIS attacked Paris leaving 129 dead and over 300 injured France has committed to welcome Syrian refugees into the country. It also happens at a time when both Congress and governors throughout the United States wants no part of the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the United States pledged to accept.
French President Francois Hollande promised to honor his commitment to take in as many as 30,000 Syrian refugees on Wednesday. He said France would do so despite concerns raised by ultra-right nationalist leaders that refugees might pose a security threat to the country.
“Some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubts in their minds,” Hollande said, but added that it is a “humanitarian duty” to help the throngs of refugees who have landed on European shores after fleeing conflict and hardship in countries like Syria and Afghanistan.
The president in a speech to the county’s mayors on Wednesday said that as many as 30,000 Syrian refugees would be relocated to France. President Hollande actually committed to taking in more refugees after the Paris attacks then before. The original commitment was for 24,000 and now it has been raised to the 30,000 he spoke about yesterday.
The president estimated that France would invest about $53.3 million to develop housing for refugees.
He added that that refugees will undergo thorough security checks before entering the country before addressing calls from the country’s largest opposition parties, the ultra-right Front National.
President Hollande’s decision sends a strong message to both the United States as well as his European partners like Poland which has been less willing to take in refugees.
The fear that ISIS fighters might pose as refugees to carry out more attacks in Europe while expanding to the United States is the result of a Syrian passport that was found near the body of one of the men involved in the Paris attacks. Greek and Serbian authorities said that it was issued to a Syrian man who registered as a refugee on the Greek island of Leros in October, and later applied for asylum in Serbia.
Many immigration experts, international policing organizations like the United Kingdom’s MI-5 and Interpol d not feel that there was a connection between the attackers and the passports. The French government has noted that such humanitarian measures undermine ISIS’ argument that the West is at odds with Muslims.
On Thursday, Thomas de Maiziere, the interior minister of Germany, said that ISIS militants might have planted the passport at the scene of carnage at the Stade de France soccer stadium to implicate refugees and “make people feel unsafe” near them.
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are nearly 4.1 million registered refugees from Syria. Some countries have opened their doors, hearts and pocketbooks to varying degrees. Others have hoisted barriers to the migrant tide.
The latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll shows that 56% of Americans disapprove of allowing more migrants fleeing violence in Syria and other nations into the country, while 41% approve and the issue divides sharply across party lines. But overwhelmingly, Americans say the U.S. and its allies are losing the war against ISIS and the poll shows bipartisan support for sending additional ground troops to fight the Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.