POLITICS

Here's How Jed Bartlet's Administration Vetted Refugees On 'The West Wing'

Just say "shibboleth."
Martin Sheen as President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler and Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn.
Martin Sheen as President Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet, Richard Schiff as Toby Ziegler and Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn.

The debate taking place about Syrian refugees in the wake of the Paris attacks -- over whether to halt refugee resettlement or, as some GOP presidential candidates suggested this week, to only allow "proven" Christian Syrians into the U.S.  -- actually took place years ago in a fictional White House.

In Season 2 of NBC's popular show "The West Wing," President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet's administration is faced with the question of what to do with a group of Christians who left China in hopes of attaining refugee status in the United States. 

As one the president's aides, Josh Lyman, points out, one challenge is that refugees may "feign faith" to prove that they are being oppressed for their religious beliefs. It is at that point that the president proposes sitting down personally with one of the Chinese refugees to gauge the veracity of his Christian faith -- and is pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

It's not identical to today's debate, but the comparison is one that "West Wing" fans will surely appreciate.

Watch the segment below.

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