On Aug. 29, the Obama administration welcomed the 10,000th Syrian refugee into the United States, hitting a self-imposed target for 2016. Many will note that the number of Syrian refugees accepted for resettlement remains exceedingly small. Indeed the United States can and should do more.
But realizing this first commitment remains an achievement for the administration. It suggests that the United States, recognizing the enormity of the crisis in the region, is willing to do its part. The program also managed to proceed against significant political headwinds as opposition to Syrian resettlement became a rhetorical go-to this election cycle. Millions of people are leaving Syria because of a brutal civil war and the rampages of the Islamic State. As August ended, thousands of refugees were pulled from the Mediterranean, evidence that little progress has been made in reducing the desperate flight, discouraging the cruelty of human traffickers or establishing safe avenues of escape for the people engulfed by the violence.
Larger numbers of Syrian refugees will have to be resettled going forward. That will take political mettle as critics of the effort continue to promote the erroneous view that welcoming Syrian refugees puts American lives at risk. No program is foolproof, but few immigrants to the United States will be as thoroughly vetted as these Syrians seeking asylum. In fact, the vetting process for immigrants is far tougher than most of its critics know. It remains a Christian duty to call on U.S. leaders to join other powers in responding as generously as possible to this ongoing humanitarian catastrophe.