What’s Next for Migrants After Paris?

Friday’s terrorist attacks have intensified an ongoing global debate on accepting Syrian refugees.

French National Front political party leader Marine Le Pen gestures at a political rally as she campaigns for regional elections in Calais. (Pascal Rossignol / Reuters)

After a terrorist attack killed more than 120 people and injured hundreds more on Friday, France imposed border controls and authorities discovered a Syrian passport near the body of one of the attackers. While it’s not clear whether any of the assailants were migrants themselves—Syrian passports are often forged—the attack has nonetheless reignited the debate over Europe’s migrant crisis.

As Quartz notes, the attacks attributed to ISIS are anything but good news for migrants in Europe. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front party in France, told reporters on Saturday that “urgent action is needed” to “annihilate” Islamic fundamentalism. Le Pen went on to advocate that France regain control of its borders and expel “illegal migrants.”

In Poland, incoming Minister of European Affairs Konrad Szymanski announced that the country will not accept migrants without security guarantees. In September, Poland agreed to accept 4,500 refugees as part of a European Union quota system.

In the U.S., the role the country should play in this refugee crisis is a subject of continued partisan debate. President Obama announced in September that at least 10,000 Syrian refugees will be resettled in the U.S. over the next year. While this number might seem small compared to the 4 million total refugees created by the war since 2011, it represents a marked jump from the fewer than 2,000 Syrian refugees accepted last year.

But some GOP candidates argued against the administration’s policy by suggesting that ISIS militants could infiltrate the country by hiding among refugees. According to Vox, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum quickly cited the Paris attacks to justify closing the borders to more Syrian refugees.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders have remained mostly quiet on the subject so far. All three have publically expressed their condolences for the victims and their families, but no one has yet made the leap to policy.

There will be time for that, however: The three candidates are set to face off in the second Democratic debate on Saturday night. After the attacks, host network CBS stated that the questions will now focus on terrorism, national security, and foreign affairs.

Meanwhile, to the north, Canada has its own ambitious refugee agenda to assess. Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committed to resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year—a number deemed unrealistic by some observers. Regardless of the logistics, the Toronto Star reported earlier today that the country remains steadfast in its plan despite the Paris attacks.

Ultimately, how the recent events will affect the debate surrounding migration in Europe and beyond remains to be seen. What is clear is that there are 4 million people displaced by the crisis and, for them, a solution will need to be reached.