The French Ministry of Interior announced on Wednesday that France admitted only 1,330 of the 30,000 refugees it had pledged to resettle from Greece and Italy by 2017. The commitment was made at the end of summer 2015, when the migrant crisis was at its peak. The French government, hostile at first to quotas recommended by the European Union, finally agreed to be part of the EU's resettlement plan to relieve these two first-entry member state countries.
"The honor of France is to welcome refugees" said French Prime Minister Manuel Valls one year ago on television.
One year later, this commitment is far from being fulfilled. France is not the only "bad student," said Pierre Henry, director of an organization called France Terre d'Asile. Of the 160,000 asylum seekers in need of resettlement from Greece and Italy, EU member states admitted less than 6,000. "There is an obvious lack of solidarity," Henry claimed.
This could be, instead, a sign of mere common sense. France has been under direct threat from ISIS and has suffered tremendously this past year from multiple terrorist attacks on its soil. French intelligence services know for a fact that terrorists from the Middle East have infiltrated refugee flows crossing into Europe. Many of those so-called refugees have been directly linked with the latest terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. This particular climate is even jeopardizing the Schengen Agreement and its free movement policy, as many European governments have actually started implementing border controls again.
Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, the Obama administration is dead set on admitting, as promised, 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of this fiscal year (September 30). Over 8,000 are already here and there is no doubt the remaining 2,000 will arrive before the refugee summit to be hosted by President Obama on September 20 in New York. Not only is this administration right "on track" as we predicted; in order to meet its target, a special "surge operation" was implemented in Jordan to speed up the resettlement process and allow for the screening of over 10,000 Syrian refugees in just three months.
Keeping one's promise is certainly admirable. However, keeping citizens safe should bear no compromise. France, sadly, learned its lesson the hard way. Let us hope the U.S. doesn't have to.
There's no shame in shifting gears. After all, as the French say, only fools do not change their minds.