Since the time of Exodus at least, people have been fleeing persecution in their homeland. The great story of Moses is that he lead the "exodus," from Egypt, where his people were being made slaves, abused and killed. No one cheers the Pharaoh and his persecutors. No one thinks the Exodus shouldn't have happened and that the persecuted Jewish people should have remained in Egypt. In fact, most believe the people were, "delivered by God," from the land of the oppressor. I dare say that many of the Republicans, (and some Democrats), who voted for a restrictive refugee bill, limiting the right of Syrian refugees fleeing war and ISIS to enter the country, have read the story of Exodus. Its likely they cheered for the freed people. I don't think I read anywhere in that story, that God told them the Exodus couldn't happen because one of the fleeing might turn out to be a secret Egyptian terrorist. They were simply invited to follow Moses into the promise land. Even though they became weary and started to test God, making false idols and worshipping them, they were not abandoned, and were forgiven by God and allowed to enter the "promised land."
Since Exodus, there has been fleeing from persecution in every century. The United States has opened its doors to many of the fleeing. We accepted a gift from France, the Statute of Liberty, as a tribute to our acceptance and welcoming of the fleeing.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door"
The Lady, says holding a lamp of light. The Lady doesn't put any conditions on her acceptance, even though she realizes that acceptance is a chance, just as anything in life is a chance. Just like Moses leading the unruly flock from Egypt, all refugees are welcome without condition.
In periods of history, America has lost her way with regard to accepting fleeing immigrants. Most notably during World War II when Jews were denied entry into the U.S., and the Japanese were interred. In her book, Stand your Ground, Black Bodies and the Justice of God, the Reverend Kelly Brown Douglas, discusses the issue of immigration, and the panic and fear that seizes upon the nation at period of intensive immigration. Her examination looks at the fear America had of a changing racial demographic due to immigration in the early 1900's. Reverend Douglas notes that President Woodrow Wilson expressed fear that "...our Saxon habits of government" are threatened by the "corruption of foreign blood." She also notes Henry Cabot Lodge who spoke of the "panic" of immigration. Lodge she says, wrote " The race changes which have begun during the last decade among the immigrants to this country... and its effect upon the quality of our citizenship have excited much apprehension and aroused a very deep interest."
The refusal to accept Syrian refugees seems a lot like the panic expressed by President Wilson and Henry Cabot Lodge. Those in the last century feared immigration would end Anglo Saxon America. The present panic is that a potential terrorist will hide among the fleeing. If Americans give into the fear, she has lost her way again. She has forgotten the story of Exodus, and blown out the torch light of Lady Liberty.
Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, Kelly Brown Douglas 2014 Orbis Books
Quoting David B. Lee "A great Racial Commission: Religion and the Construction of White America," in Race, Nation, and Religion in the Americas, ed. Henry Goldschmidt and Elisabeth McAlister (NeYork: Oxford University Press, 2004)