Don’t politicize the refugee crisis

Last week, the United States House of Representatives passed the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act of 2015, a bill that would possibly require three top government officials to individually sign off on every Syrian refugee entering the U.S.

The bill wouldn’t halt refugee admission outright, but it would pause admissions as new procedures are streamlined. And once the new process is in effect, it will almost undoubtedly slow the refugee approval process, which already takes 18 to 24 months.

The bill passed the House with a veto-proof majority, which means that House Democrats — including three Minnesota representatives — support efforts to delay refugee admission.

However, even if this bill fails in the Senate, certain congressional Republicans are calling to shut down the government if no action has been taken on this issue. Even if Democrats are against the bill, they may feel pressured to support it rather than risk a government shutdown just before an election year. America’s treatment of Syrian refugees has evolved from a question of morality into a political power play.

We believe it’s wrong to use the admission of Syrian refugees for political leverage. Threats to throw our country into disarray are always misguided, but they are especially despicable when they involve the fate of those fleeing from one of the world’s most dangerous conflicts.

We urge Senate Democrats to vote against the American SAFE Act and for all legislators to seek a compromise to the Syrian refugee crisis that does not involve a government shutdown.