Our Opinion: A dose of reality on refugee frenzy

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Attorney General Maura Healey has brought needed clarity to the overheated debate in Massachusetts and elsewhere about accepting refugees from Syria.

The attorney general pointed out Thursday that the states "are not actually empowered" to make decisions regarding refugees, which is the province of the federal government. This fact has been lost in the frenzied post-Paris attack determination on the part of Republican governors, including Massachusetts' Charlie Baker, to prevent refugees from Syria from coming to their states.

While insisting that the Obama administration more closely vet refugees from Syria the governors are conveniently ignoring another fact — that the current vetting process is already lengthy and strict. The current hysteria, warned Ms. Healey, may cause us as a state and a nation to "lose our way. And when the message is 'you're not welcome here,' we lose our way."

Rather than ban refugee children, Republicans would be better advised to keep real terrorists who may be here or planning to come here from arming themselves. As Nicholas Kristof observes on the opposite page, those on US terrorist watch lists can buy guys in the US because the NRA opposed legislation preventing this and their Republican allies, as always, did the organization's bidding. Terrorists with weapons pose a greater threat to Americans than do hungry, homeless refugees.


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