In 2015, I visited the Greek island of Lesvos to see the Syrian refugee crisis up close. Every day, refugees set out on a journey of hundreds of miles, from Syria to the Turkish coast. When they arrived, human smugglers charged them $1000 a head for a place on a shoddy, overloaded, plastic raft that was floated out to sea, hopefully toward one of the Greek islands.
At a refugee center, I met a young girl – younger than my own granddaughters – traveling all alone. I asked her how old she was, and she shyly held up seven fingers. I wondered what could possibly possess parents to hand a seven-year-old girl and a wad of cash over to human smugglers. What could possibly possess them to send a beloved child across the treacherous seas with nothing more than a pool floatie.
Today, we all know why parents would send a child on that journey. The terrorists of ISIS have spent years torturing the people of Syria. And what about the Syrian government? President Bashar al-Assad has spent years bombing his own people. Day after day, month after month, year after year, Syrian civilians have been subjected to violence – each assault more cruel than the last. Day after day, month after month, year after year, mothers, fathers, children and grandparents are slaughtered.
The recent chemical attacks in Syria are horrifying. They are a clear violation of international law and an assault on decent people. The world must hold Assad accountable for his violence against the Syrian people – and the United States should be part of a planned, coordinated multilateral effort to do exactly that.
But the Constitution gives Congress the power to authorize military action. If Donald Trump wants to expand American military involvement in Syria’s civil war, he must seek approval from Congress – and provide a comprehensive strategy with clear goals and a plan to achieve them.
And if Donald Trump truly wants to help Syrians fleeing murderers, he should immediately drop his heartless, relentless effort to ban their children from America.