News & Resources

IRAP Board Chair Publishes Op-Ed in Stars and Stripes: Terrorists Want US to Fear Refugees

Today, we’re proud to share this Stars and Stripes op-ed from IRAP’s Board Chair, Walt Cooper, and the National Security Outreach Director at Human Rights First, Scott Cooper. The piece makes several extremely important points in the midst of a heated public conversation about refugees and national security. Walt and Scott served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their perspective on why refugee resettlement is a pillar of American values and interests is essential to the debate.

“The U.S. refugee admissions screening process is robust and extensive,” the authors affirm in the piece. “The U.S. screens all refugees, a process that lasts between 18 and 24 months, before they even set foot on U.S. soil. It is hard to imagine that terrorists will wait for years to be resettled and endure the vigorous security protocols we have in place. As leaders in combat, we spent much of our professional careers managing risk, not eliminating it.

“Furthermore, welcoming refugees will create a community that values America and our way of life, as such action always has. We have been witness to the reality that there are no people more passionate about their citizenship (and more enthusiastic about joining the military, it should be emphasized) than the children of immigrants.”

Walt and Scott go on to describe their experience working alongside Iraqis and Afghans during the wars:

“We served in Iraq and Afghanistan alongside some of the bravest people we will ever know. We are not referring to our comrades in the Army and Marine Corps, respectively, but rather to the Iraqi and Afghan people who worked with us and assisted us at great personal risk. We take heart that many of them have gained asylum in the U.S. We are a nation of refugees. A Syrian fleeing the violence in his homeland may be our next neighbor, colleague at work, fireman who responds to our call, a computer genius or the teacher of our children. At least we hope so.

“At this moment, we should reaffirm what America stands for: a beacon of hope and freedom, and home of the brave. It is one of the things we fought for.”

You can read the full piece here – and please be sure to share it with your networks!