The House debate on refugees and national security this week took a turn for the personal and for good reason: Several members are refugees or the children of refugees, have family ties to the Middle East or were imprisoned in U.S. internment camps on the basis of their ethnicity.
After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, House Republicans drafted legislation requiring the FBI to certify background checks for U.S.-bound Syrian and Iraqi refugees and U.S. national security agencies to vouch that they are not security threats. The final vote in the House on Thursday was 289-137, a veto-proof margin. In the run-up to that vote, elected officials beyond the Beltway called for Syrian refugees to be turned away from their borders. One, Mayor David A. Bowers of Roanoke, Va., a Democrat, even invoked the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II to justify taking a pass on resettling refugees.