Otto von Bismarck once observed: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” President Obama’s seeming determination to refuse to learn from the lessons of Europe’s experience with Syrian refugees puts him clearly in the former category, not the latter.
The terrorist attacks in Paris a few weeks ago were the direct result of the European Union’s decision - driven in large part by German Chancellor Angela Merkel - to allow hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees into the EU without adequate vetting. This open-borders folly was divorced from the economic and security needs of the EU member nations and their citizens. France has already suffered tremendously from the EU’s completely illogical decision to allow nearly 1 million people from a terrorist-sponsoring nation into Europe, Germany is now struggling to find teachers and medical providers for its newest residents, and other EU countries are struggling with the wave of immigrants. Immigration policies have immediate, and often expensive, consequences.
Not one to acknowledge the error of his own ways, President Obama has doubled down on his illogical Syrian refugee policy. In September, he announced his plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States, and Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. would admit 200,000 refugees from all nations over the next two years. Members of the Obama administration, including the FBI director, have cautioned that there is no way the United States will be able to vet the Syrian refugees. Yet despite these concerns of high-level government officials, President Obama intends to press on with his ill-conceived Syrian refugee program.
Fortunately, the United States is not an autocracy, and we are blessed with a Constitution that includes numerous safeguards to prevent the president from pursuing a reckless agenda that will have disastrous consequences over the long term. Congress not only has the power, but also the Constitutional duty, to put a stop to President Obama’s plan to allow thousands of unvetted and unknown immigrants from Syria (and any other country) into this country.
The “power of the purse” belongs to Congress and it is the surest way - the American people’s best hope - to put a stop to Mr. Obama’s Syrian relocation program. Congress could block funding for everything related to the Syrian refugee plan. As Congress deliberates its omnibus spending bill, it should include an appropriations “rider” that would strip the president of his ability to fund the relocation of Syrian refugees into the United States. Americans overwhelmingly support prudent immigration policies, especially when it comes to national security. Should Congress use the power of the purse to limit the president in this fashion, they would do so with strong support of the American public.
Once Congress passes the omnibus - with the Syria refugee resettlement funding blocker amendment attached - it would proceed to the President’s desk. A bill containing a rider would force President Obama to make some tough decisions. Is his devotion to open borders greater than his concerns about national security? Is he willing to shut down the government for a dangerous immigration plan that would leave the United States in the same vulnerable position France found itself in last month?
Since he was first sworn into office, President Obama has demonstrated his willingness to pursue reckless policies, no matter what the cost to America and its people. Members of Congress must now demonstrate their fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and commitment to our security and safety. Our nation’s founders vested Congress with the Constitution’s spending power. Congress controls the decision to fund - or not fund - programs for precisely this type of situation. It is time for Congress to serve as a check and balance against a defiant president, to hold him accountable and to halt his senseless Syrian refugee program.