Mark Walker wasn’t in America when he made up his mind about Muslim refugees. The new chairman of the Republican Study Committee came to a conclusion while working at a crowded refugee camp in Jordan, just 15 clicks from the Syrian border.

As a former Baptist minister, Walker says his “heart went out to these people.” As a congressman, Walker explains his duty “is to protect the people of the United States.” And he tells the Washington Examiner that neither impulse runs contrary to the Trump administration’s immigration order.

Two meetings informed the decision. The first was with officials from the U.S. State Department, who the North Carolina congressman says “pretty much guaranteed us that this vetting process had come a long way and was working much better.”

The second with Prince Faisal bin Hussein, the King of Jordan’s brother, wasn’t as encouraging. “Literally after meeting with a state department official earlier in the day,” Walker explains, “Hussein offers, unsolicited, that the biggest issue ‘we have is that we can’t vet these people.'”

When Trump’s immigration order dropped, Walker’s mind returned to those two conversations more than six months ago. Today, the RSC chairman says he has “no problem” with the decision to pause the influx of refugees.

While President Trump has incurred the ire of the left for that decision, it’s difficult to doubt Walker’s compassion. Before coming to Congress, he led a group of almost 200 Americans on a tour through nearly a dozen refugee camps in Europe.

As chair of the Republican Study Committee, a group whose ranks swell past 160 members, it’s also impossible to dismiss him. If Walker is at peace with the travel ban, there’s little chance significant opposition will take hold inside the GOP conference. But he’s not ready to keep the door shut permanently.

Resettlement programs do some good, Walker insists. Ideally, he wants Republicans to use the 90 days to reevaluate how refugees are vetted. Until they find a solution, Walker would rather “hold on for a second” and keep refugees “from some of these hotbeds of terrorism” out of the country.

Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

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