Editorials

Abbott falls into an anti-Syrian abyss

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

AP

After showing a cruel lack of compassion on Monday by saying Texas will not accept any more refugees fleeing war in Syria, Gov. Greg Abbott took an even more callous step.

He ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to scrutinize the more than 200 Syrian refugees already settled in this state and make sure they “do not pose a risk to public safety.”

Abbott’s letter to the DPS and the Health and Human Services Commission was obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

These refugees have already undergone about two years of screening by the United Nations, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

There are no single males among them; none fits any profile of a terrorist.

They’ve been accepted into the refugee program and have been assisted by such reputable sponsors as the Catholic Charities.

But Abbott objects because he says there is no guarantee that a terrorist won’t slip through.

Asked by Gretchen Carlson, host of Fox News’ The Real Story, on Tuesday what it would take to ensure Texans’ safety from Syrian refugees, Abbott responded, “It is impossible for them to meet our standards, our criteria.”

Texans normally extend a welcoming handshake to strangers. Our government does not presume us to be evil.

It’s little comfort that Abbott’s irrational demonization of Syrians is carried even further by others.

Tennessee House GOP Caucus Chairman Glen Casada was quoted by Nashville’s The Tennessean as saying it’s time to call in the National Guard.

“We need to gather (Syrian refugees) up and politely take them back to the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) center and say, ‘They’re not coming to Tennessee, they’re yours’ ” Casada said.

Abbott doesn’t have the authority to stop Syrians or people of any other nationality from coming to Texas under the refuge program. That authority belongs to the president.

But more than half of the governors in the U.S. have caught the same fever, along with some very vocal members of Congress.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for a “pause” in the refugee program.

So now people who have endured years of danger and death at the hands of their country’s government, followed by more victimization from truly evil terrorists, might endure the incredible hardships of making it to the U.S. and even Texas — only to find our leaders urging us to treat them as bad guys.

Shame on us if we do.

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