The left and the media continue to hit Republicans over the idea that the government ought to pay special attention to Muslim refugees, especially from Syria. Last week Barack Hussein Obama slammed the idea: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
Obama hit Republicans last week for suggesting the U.S. should favor Christian refugees over Muslims: See why a religious test for refugees is not bigotry–and saying so merely poisons public debate, as Obama, sadly, does so often. we-absolutely-need-a-religious-test-for-refugees
Breitbart In fact, under President Harry S. Truman, the U.S. singled out refugees by ethnicity–and for good reason. Specifically, Truman ordered that refugees of German ethnic origin be investigated for their eligibility for asylum.
The justification was obvious: the U.S. did not want to give refuge to Nazis on the run, to people who had committed war crimes, or to those who might pose a security risk. To prevent that from happening, Truman issued Executive Order #10131 in 1950:
PROVIDING FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF AND REPORT ON DISPLACED PESONS AND PERSONS OF GERMAN ETHNIC ORIGIN SEEKING ADMISSION INTO THE UNITED STATES
Truman also insisted that Jewish refugees from the war be given priority. His “Truman Directive” of 1945 was designed to help Jewish “Displaced Persons.” When Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act in 1948, Truman blasted it for not going far enough to help Jews: “The bill discriminates in callous fashion against displaced persons of the Jewish faith,” he said. He praised a later amendment, which he signed in 1950–on the same day that he signed the above executive order singling out ethnic Germans.
There are parallels to the dilemma America faces today regarding Muslim refugees. We know that terrorists have pretended to be refugees in the past. We also know that many Muslims in the Middle East, including some who have sought refuge in the West, support Islamic terrorism, at least in theory. It is an urgent national security matter to keep such people out of the United States.
It is wrong to single people out by religion once they are U.S. citizens, but it is constitutional–and wise–to distinguish among refugees by religion, and to be more vigilant regarding Muslim refugees. Harry Truman would have agreed.