I don't understand why it has to be an either or proposition. Yes, help the needy here, but the situation with the Syrians is much more urgent. I get that it's more appealing to offer aid to those who live near us or who look like us, I am no different in that respect, but the people in Syria have lost everything; homes and jobs and often some family members. They risked death to get out and now no one wants them. These are people that worked or who owned businesses, many of them have savings, they have a lot to offer to any country that takes them in. The possibility of some of them being radical Muslims is there, but the risk is not as great as people fear, and good vetting and good Intel can reduce that risk. I just think sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if it poses some small risk.
I can't help but draw correlations to the plight of the Jews in WWII. There was some knowledge on the part of the U.S. that Jews were being killed, some did manage to make it out of the country, but they had no place to go. The U.S. could have taken in more people, but they didn't. I imagine the reasons were varied, but they were probably not that different than the reasons we won't take Syrian Immigrants now. There was a lot of anti semitism, they were different, they looked different, they were Germans and we were at war with Germany, we had our own poor to take care of, etc. The New York Times had a policy to minimize reporting about the camps, the state department actively worked to discourage immigration.
The middle east is in turmoil to a certain degree because the U.S. went to war against Iraq and destabilized the region, I think we have a moral obligation to help those who have been affected by what we did.
The United States also refused to grant temporary refuge to Jews fleeing Europe. In the wake of the Great Depression, the United States had a highly restrictive immigration quota system, but even the limited quota spots were not filled. The Department of State refused to fill 90% of the quota spots that might have been available for European Jews.
It was Treasury official Josiah DuBois who, risking his career, authored his celebrated "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews" that documented State Department efforts to thwart Jewish immigration from Europe.[2