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Security Experts Say Texas Shouldn’t Ban Syrian Refugees

Ryan E. Poppe
Panel on the Middle East at UT National Security Summit

The National Security summit was called “Great Powers, Failed States and New Frontiers. ” It included a who’s who of Middle East intelligence experts who’ve tracked terrorist groups like ISIS.

John McLaughlin was a career counterintelligence administrator and former deputy director for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Former Deputy Director for the CIA, John McLaughlin

“If we have a policy that says we are rejecting these refugees it plays into the ISIS narrative, and that is that the people of Muslim faith are only welcome in the Caliphate.  They’re not welcome by the infidels, that’s their narrative,” McLaughlin explained.

McLaughlin said banning refugees makes it easier for ISIS to radicalize American Muslims who are offended by that decision. He pointed out that most of the attackers in Paris were homegrown terrorists, citizens of France and Belgium who were recruited by ISIS.

Former Deputy Director for the CIA’s Counterintelligence Division Phillip Mudd said Gov. Abbott’s fears about outside groups attacking Texas citizens is real,  but will likely not come from Syrian refugees.

 “We have problems in this country with Mexican cartels, they kill people every day in America.  There might be one or two that come in amongst Syrian refugees, that’s a risk that a country built on whether or not to take in refugees.  So, I don’t think we are viewing this in context.  Second thing is, there are a lot of ISIS sympathizers in this country, the FBI already has investigations in all 50 states. We already have an ISIS problem here, let’s not delude ourselves,” Mudd said.

Tamara Wittes is a former deputy secretary of state for the Obama Administration and helped write U.S. policy on human rights in the Middle East.  She agreed with others who said governors like Abbott don’t have the legal authority to ban Syrian refugees.

“There was a Supreme Court case about whether states have the authority to restrict who can move in and out of their states.  And the answer was “NO,” governors don’t have that authority. We don’t have border checks on state borders.  And the process we have to vet refugees, whether they’re Syrians or coming from anywhere else, is long and extensive,” Wittes explained.

State Senator Charles Perry, a Lubbock Republican, has asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for an opinion on whether Abbott and Texas can legally block Syrian refugees from entering the state. 

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.