Assimilating immigrants - even those coming from developed nations - is never easy. But there is clear evidence that the process is crumbling under the weight of mass immigration from nations with low levels of education and cultures drastically different from that of the West. Assimilation is further hampered by external interests, such as the Saudis that spend millions of dollars annually to spread a totalitarian form of Islam among disaffected members of the refugee community here in the U.S.
The past several years have demonstrated that Western refugee policies, intended to protect the innocent, can also harm citizens of host countries. Western democracies have traditionally sheltered those fleeing persecution. But this good will has occasionally been repaid with aggression and violence.
In the U.S., an Iraqi refugee recently pled guilty to attempting to bomb Texas malls. Twenty-four-year-old Omar Faraj Saeed Al Hardan came to America in 2009 fleeing sectarian violence. Yet he began planning the very type of bloodshed he claimed to be escaping. Several months later, a Somali refugee, attending Ohio State University on a scholarship, drove his car into a campus crowd then stabbed 11 fellow students. In fact, there have been approximately 380 foreign-born individuals convicted of terrorism in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.
Germany has also been attacked by jihadists masquerading as refugees. In July, a Syrian refugee stabbed five people in Reutlingen. One of the victims died. The same day, an Iraqi refugee blew himself up outside a music festival in Ansbach. Fifteen people were injured. Most recently, a terrorist hijacked a tractor-trailer and plowed through Berlin's traditional Christmas market killing 12 people. The suspected killer had sought refugee status in Germany.
None of this is acceptable. The directors of the FBI and CIA, as well as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, have acknowledged the impossibility of vetting refugees from places like Syria and Somalia. And NATO Commander General Philip Breedlove has stated that ISIS is using the flow of refugees to infiltrate terrorists into the West.
Even careful vetting can only tell us who we should exclude from the United States when we find the evidence. But the U.S. is increasingly encountering those who choose to distort, or intentionally hide, their views.
Providing assistance to refugees in or near their own countries is a better approach, whether through the creation of safe havens or the provision of humanitarian aid. The United States should be a fully-participating partner in international efforts to protect refugees in and near their homelands. This would maximize the safety of refugees while minimizing domestic security risks to Americans.
President-elect Trump has promised "extreme vetting" of refugees. But that might not be enough. Policymakers who ignore the dangers inherent in admitting massive numbers of high risk refugees do so at the potential peril of the American people.
Dan Stein is president, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.