In the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris, fears in Europe and the United States are mounting that terrorists may be hiding among the throngs of refugees fleeing Iraq and Syria, prompting some U.S. lawmakers to demand a halt to resettlement programs until tighter screening measures are adopted. (U.S.-bound Syrian refugees already undergo extra scrutiny that involves extensive background checks and in-person interviews, and takes on average 18–24 months to complete.)
Those concerns appear to be echoed in a Bloomberg Politics poll that found 53 percent of Americans don’t want to accept any Syrian refugees at all; 11 percent more would accept only Christian refugees from Syria.
But a look back into the opinion-polling archives (courtesy of Cornell’s Roper Center for Public Opinion Research) shows that American opposition to admitting large numbers of foreigners fleeing war and oppression has been pretty consistent, regardless of official government policy.
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