A disturbed Somali teenager who had come to the United States with his mother and six siblings in 2014 went on a rampage at The Ohio State University on Nov. 28. He was quickly gunned down by police but not before he used his car and a knife to injure 11 people. The incident is sure to encourage more calls for restrictions on refugees and attacks on faith groups that facilitate resettlement or advocate on behalf of refugees. But that short-sighted response, fixed on absolute security and suspicious of members of the Muslim community, will only exacerbate tensions that can lead to acts of extremism.
Since the end of World War II, U.S. policy on refugee admission has adapted to the changing needs and crises of the times. Today’s humanitarian crises in the Middle East should be similarly addressed with a generous, judicious resettlement policy, especially since so much of the disorder in the region has been the result of reckless U.S. geopolitical decisions. No civilized society can remain indifferent to the clear suffering of so many at this time, but no program can be foolproof. The risk will always remain that an extremist actor may infiltrate the resettlement system.