Even as the Republicans bombard US President Barack Obama's migration policies especially concerning Syrian refugees, the president slammed them by saying they needed to stop ranting and being scared of widows and orphans. He said their propagation only strengthened the Islamic State's (IS) intention to exploit the possibility of a war between Islam and the West.
"At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn't seem so tough to me. We are not well served when in response to a terrorist attack we descend into fear and panic," said Obama at the Philippine capital of Manila ahead of a summit focused on trade and climate issues. He insisted the process for screening refugees for possible entry into the US is rigorous and the government does not make good decisions based on "hysteria" or "exaggerated risk."
The White House, through its social media channels, has also been urging citizens to maintain a non-biased attitude towards refugees. They stress on how much good the refugees can bring to the country.
In the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections, however, Republicans have been doing all they can to puncture holes in the current Democrat-led government's overtly safe attitude towards terrorism threats. Just two days ago, Donald Trump called for increased scrutiny and even closure of mosques across the United States if they are found to promote hatred. Another GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush earlier made a proposal to admit only Christian Syrians. Obama reacted angrily at a press conference to these calls to profile refugees using religion as a factor.
Other Republican contenders like Marco Rubio and Ben Carson have also cautioned the government on the refugees, saying it is impossible to know whether those fleeing Syria have links to Islamic militants. Strong figures in Congress, like House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have also urged at least a temporary halt in the resettlement of Syrians.
In fact, post the Paris attacks, governors in at least 18 states have moved to suspend or restrict the refugee resettlement. The states include Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin among others. Lawmakers stress that the vetting process for refugees is faulty because US officials do not have formal cooperation with the Syrian government, making background checks more difficult.