What’s in it For Us? Why We Should Accept Syrian Refugees

 

I just woke up and read through most of the hundreds of comments on my last few posts. Thanks to the people who left such kind comments about me. As for those of you who said mean things, I hate you. I’m going on a hunger strike until you give me a safe space where no one will ever say mean things.

Just kidding. But don’t you keep talking about my granny that way.

I’m not sure whether I’m making any progress on changing minds, but this is what I’m understanding from some of your comments, so perhaps I’m understanding (some) of your positions better. At least for some of you, it seems, the anger isn’t about the Syrian refugees per se. It’s about seven years’ worth of anger and frustration with a failed president, the damage he’s done and is doing to us domestically and around the world, and a sense that no matter what he’s for, at this point, we’re against it, because we simply don’t trust him.

I’m with you almost all the way on that, frankly. I don’t know if anyone here’s more angry about our Syria policy — or our foreign policy, generally — than I am. I never dreamt we could have a president whose instincts on foreign policy could be so systematically catastrophic. I’m with you all the way to the last part of the argument, which is that if the president is in favor of accepting these refugees, it’s wrong.

Even stopped clocks, etc.

Before I make the case that there’s something in it for us, start with the basics. Including the internally displaced, some 12 million Syrians have fled their homes. Half children. Four million Syrians are, formally, refugees; most are in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at particularly high risk of illness, malnourishment, abuse, or exploitation. Millions have been forced to quit school. Winter is coming: Refugees in settlements have fewer resources than ever before; they need warm clothes, shoes, blankets, heaters, and fuel.

More than 3,200 refugees have perished this year.

More than 240,000 Syrians have been killed, including 12,000 children. A million more have been wounded or permanently disabled. The war has become even more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict. Syria’s infrastructure has collapsed: Its healthcare, education systems, and infrastructure have been destroyed; the economy is shattered. Syrian children, in particular, have lost their families, suffered appalling injuries, missed years of schooling, seen unimaginable violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles.

A quick point: Some believe Arab and Muslim countries haven’t admitted refugees. This isn’t true. They’ve not only admitted them, but admitted them to the point that it’s placing huge strain on the stability of their own societies, which could cause this crisis — bad enough as it is — to spread.

It’s not even true that the Gulf countries haven’t admitted them. What is true is that the GCC states aren’t signatories to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, so they don’t recognise “refugees” as a legal category. This makes it hard to figure out how many refugees (as we’d understand the term) are there. This study suggests that it’s probably quite a few.

But the main countries to which the refugees have fled are Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. Are they safe there? Safer than in Syria, certainly. But in Jordan, at least, given the size of its population, the scale of the influx to Jordan is equivalent to about thirty-three million Mexicans entering the United States. The refugee burden is creating huge social strain, and it puts the greatest demands on the most vulnerable Jordanians.

Food is running out in the camps. The World Food Programme had to drop a third of the Syrian refugees from its program in the Middle Eastern this year, including 229,000 of them in Jordan: The refugees there stopped receiving food aid in September. Forty percent of these children aren’t in school.

Consider the statistics on Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The total population of Lebanon is 4.467 million. It’s accepted more than a million Syrian refugees, so refugees are now 25 percent of Lebanon’s population. Just over half are in school. Only 12 percent have access to health care.

In 2015, according to the Vulnerability Assessment for Syrian refugees in Lebanon,

The number of meals eaten each day by children and adults fell compared to 2014. In one in three households (vs one in four in 2014) members consumed just one or no cooked meals the previous day. Children under five consumed fewer than three cooked meals the previous day in 65% of households versus 41% in 2014. More than a quarter of households (27%) were unable to cook at least once a day on average (7% more than in 2014), mainly due to lack of food to cook (88%) or lack of fuel (12%) …

An even lower percentage of 6-17 month old infants had the ‘minimum acceptable diet’ in 2015 in comparison to 2014 (3% versus 4%). The main limiting factors were insufficient number of meals (83% did not have the minimum acceptable meal frequency) and poor diet diversity.

Most of the refugees are underage. Food is the most immediate priority, but if you think the Middle East is a hellhole now, imagine what it will be like if these kids get no education. A whole generation will grow up with no skills; they’ll be illiterate, innumerate, and completely unable to rebuild their country if ever the war ends. And the worst part is that the only friendly faces they’ll see — if they don’t see ours — will be Salafi preachers posing as “aid workers.” Children imprint on the people who feed them. That’s how kids work.

We can’t wait five more years to take care of them— five years of a child’s school life is forever; five years of childhood malnutrition will create mental retardation; these will turn into adults who will never be able to create and live in a remotely stable country; and they’ll be a time bomb that makes the era we’re living through now look almost nostalgic.

So obviously, the first priority is getting food and money to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and the other host countries to help them with the refugees. This is a higher priority than accepting 10,000 refugees ourselves, which is — in truth — a drop in the bucket. It would of course mean everything to those refugees, but it is not nearly enough.

It’s absolutely correct that according to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the bulk of the refugees in camps in neighboring countries have already received asylum. But what the US is proposing is refugee resettlement. This is a distinct category. Here’s how the European Refugee Fund explains it.

These are the resettlement submission categories:

LEGAL AND/OR PHYSICAL PROTECTION NEEDS of the refugee in the country of refuge (this includes a threat of refoulement);

SURVIVORS OF TORTURE AND/OR VIOLENCE, in particular where repatriation or the conditions of asylum could result in further traumatization and/or heightened risk; or where appropriate treatment is not available;

MEDICAL NEEDS, in particular life-saving treatment that is unavailable in the country of refuge;

WOMEN AND GIRLS AT RISK, who have protection problems particular to their gender;

FAMILY REUNIFICATION, when resettlement is the only means to reunite refugee family members who, owing to refugee flight or displacement, are separated by borders or entire continents;

CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS AT RISK, where a best interests determination supports resettlement;

LACK OF FORESEEABLE ALTERNATIVE DURABLE SOLUTIONS, which generally is relevant only when other solutions are not feasible in the foreseeable future, when resettlement can be used strategically, and/or when it can open possibilities for comprehensive solutions.

Ideally, in the UNHCR’s view, emergency cases, which typically involve immediate life-threatening situations, should depart for resettlement in seven days; urgent cases should depart within six weeks; and normal priority cases should be resettled within a year.

This is not what happens, of course.

The US prioritizes admitting the most vulnerable Syrians, including female-headed households, children, survivors of torture, and people with severe medical conditions. We do have a great deal of experience screening and admitting large numbers of refugees from chaotic environments, including places where our intelligence is limited. This experience antedates the Obama administration. It dates to the Cold War. We have, at least, some bureaucratic continuity and institutional knowledge about how to do this. The DHS has full discretion to deny admission before a refugee comes to the the United States. When in doubt, DHS denies applications on national security grounds and the refugee never sets foot on American soil. (By the way, the Tsarnaev brothers did not enter the U.S. by this process; they arrived in the country on tourist visas and later applied for political asylum. People who arrive on tourist visas are unlikely to trigger screening remotely as rigorous as those who apply for refugee resettlement. And the 9/11 hijackers used tourist and business visas to get into the country.)

So to say that we have no idea who these people are is an exaggeration. It’s much, much more likely that we’re turning away eligible people who were unable to prove their bona fides — refugees often flee without the documents and paperwork required to establish a compelling case file. It’s also very likely that those most at risk of refoulement, most in need of emergency protection (be it for medical reasons or because they’re at risk of rape or starvation) will not be able to complete this arduous process in time to save their lives.

One more point: The Federal Refugee Resettlement Program was created by the The Refugee Act of 1980. It caps the number of refugees that may be admitted at 50,000 per fiscal year, so even if used to its maximum capacity, it wouldn’t significantly alter the ethnic balance of the United States (pop. 318.9 million).

To see what’s in it for us, first look at what’s in it for the refugees in the countries of first asylum. Resettlement helps not only those who are resettled, but those who aren’t. It encourages host states to continue to offer asylum and adhere to the principle of non-refoulement. Itƒ affects the behavior and attitudes of countries of asylum; it encourages them to provide refugees with access to health care, employment, education, freedom of movement and residence; ƒit decongests camps; it reduces demands on scarce resources; ƒit reduces rape; it increases enrollment in education and vocational training. It facilitates remittances from resettled refugees to those in countries of asylum. Experience from many conflict zones shows clearly that the longer refugees are left to languish in despair in camps, the more prone they become to radicalization. Our acceptance of refugees says to both these refugees and the countries hosting them that we have skin in the game; we’re watching what’s happening; we aren’t leaving them on their own to drown.

Another key point: ISIS hates the refugees. As Aaron Zelin, documents amply at the excellent site Jihadology, the exodus of refugees

… is anathema to ISIS, undermining the group’s message that its self-styled caliphate is a refuge. If it were a refuge, then hundreds of thousands of people would surely be settling in its lands instead of risking their lives on miserable journeys to Europe. The hostile reaction to refugees, therefore, only bolsters ISIS’s contentions and risks spurring future, avoidable tensions.

As for ISIS’s actual gestures regarding refugees, the group released twelve videos between September 16 and 19 aimed at inserting itself into a discussion highlighted by deaths at sea and, especially, the crushing image of Alan Kurdi, the child who washed up dead on a Turkish beach. These videos were released by the group’s respective “provinces” in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen and aimed both at warning potential refugees of the risks and costs of traveling to Europe and urging them to take refuge in its caliphate.

For example, in its video from Wilayat Salah al-Din (Iraq), ISIS argues that Muslims should leave the infidel’s lands for the lands of Islam, but not vice versa, and that happiness can only be found in the ISIS caliphate. Moreover, in a message from its Wilayat al-Janub (Iraq), ISIS declares that Muslims cannot live or seek refuge in non-Muslim lands and that doing so amounts to apostasy, in effect legitimizing the refugees’ spilt blood. ISIS’s Wilayat al-Furat, on the Syria-Iraq border, militates against migration on the grounds that refugees would be subject to human laws rather than sharia. As a result, according to Wilayat al-Raqqa (Syria), the migrants’ children would abandon Islam — even though Europe’s Muslim population has continued growing in recent decades through various waves of migration. Another claim holds that Europe is only accepting Muslim refugees as a tactic to increase the Shiite, Druze, and Christian population to defeat ISIS in Syria. Based in northwestern Syria, ISIS’s Wilayat al-Barakah notes further that accepting refugees allegedly forces Muslims to work for Europe’s interests, thereby weakening Islam.

ISIS wants nothing more than for them all to be forced back into Syria, where they can either kill or conscript them. And this is happening now: Facing European pressure and bribery, Turkey is pushing refugees back into Syria — in direct contradiction to the principle of non-refoulement:

During the second half of October 2015, Human Rights Watch interviewed 51 Syrians in Turkey who had fled airstrikes and other violence in Syria. … They described men, women, and terrified children trying to clamber at smuggler crossings across steep terrain at night for many hours surrounded by gunfire.

“Turkey’s border closure is forcing pregnant women, children, the elderly, the sick, and the injured to run the gantlet of Turkish border officials to escape the horrors of Syria’s war,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher at Human Rights Watch.

It’s utterly short-sighted. What do you think will happen to them when they’re forced back? They’ll either be killed or they’ll be conscripted to fight for ISIS. What kind of strategy is it to hand ISIS the conscripts it wants?

So what’s in it for us? What’s in it for us from a strictly realpolitik perspective is that — in my view — we need to extirpate ISIS, root and branch. I hope I’ve convinced you that they do mean to kill us. Some of you were dubious when I said this before, but it sounds as if you’re mostly sold on that one now. And I hope I’ve convinced you that only a total border closure of a kind that’s simply not feasible could prevent them from reaching the United States. The way they’d be apt to reach the US is through a normal tourist or business visa, not the refugee resettlement program.

Even if you don’t agree that our aim should be to annihilate them, surely you’d agree that we don’t want the Caliphate to spread, as its apt to do if any more of this region collapses into complete chaos and civil war. The refugee crisis is putting a sufficient burden on neighboring states that this is a not a possibility to be ruled out.

Here’s something else that’s in it for us: The refugees are a rich source of human intelligence about Syria — which we desperately need: The FBI seems to think so, anyway. (I assume they approved this message.)

The Syrian refugees offer a rich pool to enhance our domestic human source capabilities, and have several advantages over contacts developed abroad. For one thing, the FBI — the agency responsible for domestic intelligence — already has established relationships within many immigrant communities. These existing relationships allow the FBI to more easily build and vet new ones with newly arrived populations, allowing us to create a wider intelligence “net” with which to gather information and uncover potential domestic plots. In addition, refugees, like the immigrant populations they are integrating into, have a personal reason to help the U.S. — they are grateful to be here and have a vested interest in helping the country they now call home. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, for example, thousands of Iraqis living in the United States provided valuable information that assisted intelligence and military on the ground in Iraq. Last, but most important, they can easily see, hear and speak with the people we most want to know about in the U.S., which is something that we can’t replicate through mass data collection alone.

Another strategic point: to defeat ISIS (not just “contain” them), we need the cooperation of the states neighboring Syria. It makes perfect sense to me that Turks and Jordanians are outraged to hear, “We’re not taking in a single refugee. We’re too precious for that.” It makes even more sense to me that the Lebanese feel that way: They’ve taken in a truly destabilizing number of people, and they have recent experience of a civil war borne of the undermining of their own sectarian balance.

Fewer than 2,200 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since the war broke out in 2011. We’re the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country, we seem to be saying — but we won’t do a thing about Assad; we’ll hit ISIS from the air every now and again when the mood strikes us, and we can’t even handle taking in a fraction of the number of refugees that Lebanon has. Why should anyone listen to us about anything if we either hate and fear the Syrian people so much that we would allow their country to be destroyed, and wouldn’t even allow 10,000 refugees from this conflict to live among us? Or if we believe ourselves too incompetent to differentiate between refugees fleeing from war criminals and terrorists from war criminals and terrorists themselves? That message doesn’t even suggest “leading from behind,” it suggests “let anyone else lead — these Americans are utterly hapless.” That’s a dangerous message to send, even if it’s true. And if someone else leads — and someone else will, because international relations abhors a vacuum — don’t complain if the world is modeled in their image; because it will be. Headline yesterday:

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 11.34.05

Meanwhile, Turkey has shot down a Russian jet. (You may not care about Syria, but it cares about you.)

Admitting 10,000 refugees is a drop in the bucket. It is completely insufficient, from a humanitarian point of view. It will not save them all (although it would make all the difference in the world to them). But yes, it is an important gesture. People in that part of the world do believe, for good reason, that we’re powerful and wealthy enough to do something to help Syria if we choose to do so. But they see that we don’t choose to do so. It’s unreasonable to expect them to be sympathetic when we say that we don’t choose to help, and what’s more, we’re too scared of ISIS to allow any Syrian, however desperate, to come to America. The message comes through exactly as ISIS wants it to: We just hate them. That message makes it all the harder to mobilize our allies to go after ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their various affiliates. And if we don’t go after them, they will not be content to stay in place.

Is that enough?

But what else is in it for us? Well, there’s knowing we’re the country that saves families like this. That’s an anecdotal argument; I’m sure you can also find articles about Syrians who aren’t so winsome and aren’t clear about the principles of liberal democracy. But that’s really up to us: If we teach them how to be good Americans — if we insist upon it, in fact — I’ve got confidence that they’ll learn. We’ve assimilated more; we’ve assimilated weirder; we’ve assimilated worse.

And yes, it is grotesque to hear Obama lecture Republicans about how they should have compassion for Syrians. His foreign policy has been based on the principle of total bloodlessness toward them and an utter indifference to the destruction of their country, and he’s the one who might have been able to do something before this degenerated into hell on earth.

But a policy based on that principle isn’t improved when both parties jump on the bandwagon. That’s just doubling down on the cruelty and the strategic folly — and two wrongs don’t make a right.

There are 208 comments.

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  1. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Greetings,

    I hope nobody said anything too mean.  Uncalled for.  Meanwhile, I have posted a short refutation of the type of arguments composing most of this post (mentioned you briefly in the comments, as perorating, so you got that going for you).  You are appealing to emotion, and I have secured that for this conflict.  Practice makes perfect.

    The slender section remaining on “what’s in it for us” doesn’t seem to have any actual content.

    I see all downside, no upside, to bringing those folks here.  Like the story of the starfish, it would look great on a mawkish inspirational poster, but not all over main street.

    • #1
  2. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    The numbers you shared with us are impressive as in very large.

    It seems unlikely that less than 10% of those are abled bodied men and teenage boys.

    Has any thought been given to training and equipping them to return to Syria and help fight ISIS?

    Thanks for the passionate article. I am not convinced there is any upside to bringing them to the U.S. The middle east is already a hell hole by its inhabitants own choosing. I am unmoved by it getting worse and them suffering the consequences of their choices.

    • #2
  3. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    If we can’t treat the humanitarian needs of the refugees at their home sites or near by (I think we can, but I’m no expert), then for every refugee we take in, I want a one for one reduction of future muslim immigrants that would be allowed to immigrate.  That’s my stipulation, otherwise, no I will not take these refugees.  The risks are too high and we’re importing people who do not fit in our culture.  I’ve seen what happened to Europe when they have let in large scale of muslims.  I don’t want it.  Let the muslim countries take them in.  10,000 refugees today and if there’s no push back no doubt tomorrow Obama will make it 100,000+.

    • #3
  4. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    • #4
  5. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I will set aside for the sake of argument, concerns about admitting a fifth column (and remember admitting children means also admitting families and being “family men” does not rule out being also a terrorist). My ongoing objection, based as you said in 7 years of Obama’s radical actions (fundamental transformation), is whether the US as we know it, can survive the present immigration (legal and illegal), which has no limiting principle and which the government is not only not opposing, but is actively assisting.

    This discussion has crystallized my sense that an important component of the progressive agenda is to demographically dilute out those who believe in the Founding principles. The constant invective directed at white males and media celebration of the fact that they will be in a minority soon, are illustrative. Progressives are masterly at playing on emotion (witness global warming) to convince large groups of people to accede to their own enslavement. We are witnessing a multi-front attack on the Constitution. This is a form of bellum se ipsum alet.

    If compassion for children  is the principle for admitting Syrians today, that same principle can be applied to much of the third world tomorrow. What principle, then, prevents progressives from importing an unlimited number of voters (illegals are and will be voting) from all over the world. Reports of voter turnout in Canada’s recent election indicated that nearly 80% of Muslims voted, up from 30% in the past. Note which side won.

    • #5
  6. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Good stuff, Claire. I think you’ve done a great job over your last few posts of dealing with the actual facts behind the refugee crisis and addressing the reality of what this means for the United States. Unfortunately, the pure visceral and emotional reaction of the opponents of these refugees won’t really be affected by reasoned argument.

    • #6
  7. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Most of the refugees are underage. Food is the most immediate priority, but if you think the Middle East is a hellhole now, imagine what it will be like if these kids get no education. A whole generation will grow up with no skills; they’ll be illiterate, innumerate, and completely unable to rebuild their country if ever the war ends.

    The idea of a second Gaza Strip certainly is alarming, but it still doesn’t mean we have to admit Syrians into the U.S.; sending actual aid in the personage of aid workers, financial assistance, food and, if needed, teachers should be sufficient. Once they’re here why would they return? What possible benefit is there to returning to a burned out Damascus when you can live in, say, Charleston?

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: It caps the number of refugees that may be admitted at 50,000 per fiscal year, so even if used to its maximum capacity, it wouldn’t significantly alter the ethnic balance of the United States (pop. 318.9 million).

    The question isn’t countrywide changes, it’s local changes. Seven hundred refugees isn’t that much for Germany but it’s devastating for Sumte. Where are these refugees (100,000 is the current ceiling which I expect will go higher once the flood starts) going to be kept? What kind of assistance are they going to be given and for how long? How responsible are local governments for support after federal do-gooders move on and do they have a right to reject resettlement if they have to foot part of the bill? These questions are not as insignificant or heartless as some seem to think.

    My private belief is that the resettlements will be in large bulk, the people resettled won’t know the language or have marketable skills and will be placed in areas ill-equipped to absorb them straining local finances once the compassionate turn their gazes back to their navels having satisfied their quixotic thirst for philanthropic meddling.

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: Or if we believe ourselves too incompetent to differentiate between refugees fleeing from war criminals and terrorists from war criminals and terrorists themselves?

    It’s not a matter of belief – it’s a matter of experience. I’m sure they’d work very hard but there’s a world of difference between Iraqi refugees and Syrian refugees because we had records from years of occupying Iraq. The government here has been failing for decades and people have finally woken up to it.

    If the local sheriff had been caught accidentally hiring gang members as deputies you wouldn’t suddenly trust him when he said you could keep your doors unlocked at night.

    I’m all for helping the refugees – over there. I fail to see, and have yet to have explained, why spending money to relocate them here benefits Americans; since the action taken would be by the American government that is the only legitimate consideration.

    • #7
  8. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Jamie Lockett:Good stuff, Claire. I think you’ve done a great job over your last few posts of dealing with the actual facts behind the refugee crisis and addressing the reality of what this means for the United States. Unfortunately, the pure visceral and emotional reaction of the opponents of these refugees won’t really be affected by reasoned argument.

    Well this is nonsense.  Who says that the response to Claire is “visceral and emotional” and Claire’s post is not?  Frankly letting the refugees tug at your heartstrings is “pure visceral and emotional.”  Trying to satisfy their needs while understanding the dangers to one’s country is rather rational, if you ask me.

    • #8
  9. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Manny: Well this is nonsense.

    Don’t take the bait!

    • #9
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Claire, I disagree with your conclusion, as I disagree with several of your precepts, but at least you’ll never have to listen to me responding out of an account-balancing sycophancy while trashing the other side as a bunch of terror-loving anti-American sophists with nefarious agendas.
    Although I am routinely reminded that it’s not against the COC. I merely find that sort of argumentation trollish, but of course, I am wrong in that.

    • #10
  11. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Austin Murrey
    Manny: Well this is nonsense.

    Don’t take the bait!

    Heh. Is that like “Don’t feed the… Uh,”
    Well how do you like that. I’m at a loss for words.
    It will come to me. Go about your business.

    • #11
  12. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Ball Diamond Ball:Austin Murrey Manny: Well this is nonsense.

    Don’t take the bait! — Heh.Is that like “Don’t feed the… Uh,” Well how do you like that.I’m at a loss for words. It will come to me.Go about your business.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. *Whistles innocently.*

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    That’s a mighty fearful, visceral whistle…

    • #13
  14. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    The only thing Claire’s post convinces me of is that Europe should take the lead (and with 2/3 more population than the US) the vast bulk (all, save for the ones already in the US) of the refugees.

    Europe has a fantastic rail system they can use to move them around, a well developed welfare state to provide them benefits and marvelous single-payer healthcare.

    The US ought to spend our resettlement dollars resettling illegal aliens who are already here.

    • #14
  15. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    You make a case that the situation is intolerable, that we should do something about it, but do not really make the case that it is in our interest to take refugees into the US.  It’s a gesture to make us feel better, but simply does not deal with the refugee problem nor its origin.     These are human resources who know the lay of the land, speak the relevant languages and could be useful in the fight.  As to the women and children, do we need more dependent minorities?  Welfare undercuts assimilation, fosters aimlessness and sets the stage for all of  the problems we fear from them.

    • #15
  16. Pilgrim Coolidge
    Pilgrim
    @Pilgrim

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: People in that part of the world do believe, for good reason, that we’re powerful and wealthy enough to do something to help Syria if we choose to do so. But they see that we don’t choose to do so. It’s unreasonable to expect them to be sympathetic when we say that we don’t choose to help, and what’s more, we’re too scared of ISIS to allow any Syrian, however desperate, to come to America. The message comes through exactly as ISIS wants it to: We just hate them.

    IMHO This is a good and sufficient reason to take Syrian refugees, vetted as well as possible, in sufficient numbers to show good faith.  Just because Obama wants to do something doesn’t make it wrong per se, even when he gaslights me into a slobbering frenzy.   The potential security cost of the gesture is small compared with being seen by allies and in the Muslim world (including Dearborn) as standing for what we say do.

    But if the risk of lost lives of innocent Americans is the primary concern, one should really be much more upset by CAFE standards but no one seems to be.

    National Policy Analysis – CAFE standards USA Today report, using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, estimated that 46,000 people – nearly as many Americans as lost their lives in the Vietnam War – have died since 1975 as a result of the vehicle downsizing and downweighting due to CAFE standards.4

    • #16
  17. LilyBart Inactive
    LilyBart
    @LilyBart

    We get it Claire.  You believe we are heartless monsters if we don’t agree to bring the Syrian refugees to live in American.  And you feel that America is this special  place where two groups people, whose values and culture are opposed to each other, will get along in harmony.   But we’re all just human over here, too.

    I agree that the situation in  Syria is heartbreaking.   We can and must do more to help the displaced.  But we just cannot bring everyone with the sad story here.  We don’t have the resources.  And we HAVE to consider the long term effects of bringing people here whose culture is antithetical to our own.  We have the benefit of Europe’s experience to inform our views.  We’d be foolish to ignore it.

    And I am frustrated that you just dismiss the practical problems and the risks to us (and our children!) out of hand, as if they don’t matter or as if they are easily overcome.

    • #17
  18. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    I am struggling to keep up with these threads, so I may have missed something, but is bringing refugees here the only option?

    I heard this morning about the number of refugees that Canada is planning on receiving.  It is hard for me to believe that people from the mideast being comfortable in the cold of Canada.

    Wouldn’t it make sense to focus on creating ‘safe’ zones either in Syria or somewhere nearby?  Then, we could focus directly on support while trying to remove the reasons for the need to leave in the first place.

    Thanks for these threads.

    • #18
  19. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Again, we are a humane people – the first to provide aid when the need arises, food, medicine, backbone to rebuild, military protection.  Yes, we are weary after these 7 long years and counting the days. We’ve been told to buy healthcare even with huge deductibles or you will be penalized, if you have different views and politely answer I don’t agree, or if you pray in public, you will be silenced and badgered into the ground. Our allies have been ignored and our enemies coddled.

    Cities having been receiving refugees for the last few years in droves – strains on healthcare, schools, welfare system – bused with no information, paperwork, sometimes no names. But we take them.

    Yes, we’ll take women and children, the elderly. But we have been threatened, experienced terror attacks, warned that more destruction is coming soon and our leadership has no plan and no proper screening in place. Your stats and explanation is appreciated – I understand and agree to the weakest and most vulnerable only.

    If it were just a war within a country, we could take anyone. But a dangerous, sick ideology has spread throughout the world – so that changes the come one, come all, open arms approach of the past.

    • #19
  20. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    Claire,

    I’m mostly with you, but I still need clarification on one point.  You’ve suggested that the Syrian refugees are, or will be, well vetted.  What evidence do you have for this?

    • #20
  21. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:Admitting 10,000 refugees is a drop in the bucket. It is completely insufficient, from a humanitarian point of view. It will not save them all (although it would make all the difference in the world to them). But yes, it is an important gesture. People in that part of the world do believe, for good reason, that we’re powerful and wealthy enough to do something to help Syria if we choose to do so.

    Claire – I propose we don’t do public policy based on theatre. Good strategy means that we marry ends (a peaceful Syria) with means and ways while minimizing risk.

    The US is supremely good at breaking things.

    Europe is supremely good at supporting indolence and relying on the US to break things when Europe needs it to.

    My proposal is that everyone play to their strengths. The US breaks ISIS; Europe supports the indolent among the refugees of that conflict.

    The US will be unable to break ISIS while P. Obama is in office (and in the fours years after he leaves if we are unfortunate enough to elect a Democrat as President to succeed him).

    Focus on the election to start the defeat of ISIS, allow Europe and their vaunted respect for human rights to ameliorate the conditions of the refugees.

    • #21
  22. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    I don’t trust Obama to walk to the bathroom without somehow harming America.  He will demand that security screens are bypassed, and settle the refugees in locations  where they can best engage in voter fraud or something similar.

    It’s just like war with ISIS – Obama would screw it up massively, so it has to wait for a competent, non-malevolent president.

    • #22
  23. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Sortez les mouchoirs.

    • #23
  24. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    That’s a more convincing argument, Claire, though it again misrepresents some counter-arguments made.

    First, the foremost concern about the vetting process is not incompetence but ideological blindness. It’s not merely that our officials can’t uncover information, though that can be challenging with possessionless refugees. It’s that our officials refuse to acknowledge information that doesn’t suit their preconceptions or interests.

    Perhaps our government, following Canada’s example, will simply wave “refugees” (mostly adult men) through before vetting has even begun.

    Second, since when does America’s reputation among common citizens in the region bear any relation to our actions? Those governments tightly control what their citizens learn. The bad actors among those populations don’t rely on facts. Like “the stupid party” trying to woo Democrats, you are pretending facts matter in malicious propaganda.

    When have our actions even wooed government leaders in the region? They respond to strength, not to charity.

    How is it that these nations have sufficient oil wealth to export jihad and anti-Semitism around the world but not enough to feed starving people in their midst? Are there local charitable organizations involved or do those governments exercise a monopoly on foodstuffs and blankets? Could Western charities contribute or are they denied access?

    US officials could clear and secure Syrian territories in the same timeframe as refugee acceptance. We would be as likely to gain trust and intel that way.

    If so many children are in desperate straights, why are most of the migrants men? Would most of the refugees we admit also be men?

    I will re-read your post later and try to consider it more generously. You raise valid humanitarian and strategic concerns, but it still seems that you’re dodging valid concerns.

    • #24
  25. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Spin:

    Claire,

    I’m mostly with you, but I still need clarification on one point.  You’ve suggested that the Syrian refugees are, or will be, well vetted.  What evidence do you have for this?

    Well the UN process which lasts 18 – 24 months is by no means perfect but its a start. There are multiple interviews, background checks and cross referencing of stories with other refugees claiming to be from the same area. Fingerprints and retina scans are taken of everyone granted UN refugee status. This is all before the US process even begins.

    The US process involves additional interviews, medical and security screenings and involves US intelligence and security agencies providing assistance and background data on known threats. This includes biographic and biometric checks against the databases of multiple US intelligence agencies.

    And as Claire pointed out – only certain refugees are even considered for resettlement: Female heads of household, torture victims and people with serious medical problems.

    There are far easier ways for potential terrorists to enter the United States. As Claire and others have pointed out elsewhere the chances of a terrorists making it through the refugee process are extraordinarily small. If this is how one assesses risk I’m surprised many of these people leave the house in the morning.

    • #25
  26. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    If we were to admit these refugees how long are they here for?

    How do we track them? Who/What determines that the crisis that brought them here is over and they need to return home?

    What  is the criteria to determine it is safe for them to return?

    If they have a child while here is the child a U.S. citizen pursuant to 14A?

    • #26
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Do you see any benefit to the US from being the leader of the free world?

    You didn’t earn that by taking no risks. Right now the US runs the risk of being dismissed as a less efficient version of Switzerland. In Syria almost irrelevent.

    If no benefit, then fine, move over and let someone else do it. If benefit, then be realistic about how you get and keep the crown.

    • #27
  28. Tom Riehl Inactive
    Tom Riehl
    @TrinityWaters

    Maybe ninety percent of the world’s population is beset with heart-rending crises, regularly.  Anyone who has traveled extensively knows how unique our nation is.  Our nation’s existence and character are the touchstones for all who desire to live in freedom.  It will serve no one, and surely not US citizens, if we destroy our country from within by redefining it with third world refugees.  Where does one go from here for freedom and safety?

    Compassion has nothing to do with this issue.  Truly helping the so-called downtrodden means giving them opportunity, not gifts.  Haven’t we learned that yet, just in the context of our internal policy towards the relatively indigent?  The purple fingers in Iraq were forsaken by Obama and his willing enablers’ ignorant insistence on using failed socialist policies of the last century.

    I respect crunching the numbers related to this issue, but only one number matters.  The significant measure is the dilution of our population.  Please, oh please, read Coulter.  Then you may also be on the path to understanding Trump’s appeal.

    We now have a State Dept. international travel advisory in place, worldwide.  Does that impress anyone?

    • #28
  29. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Zafar:Do you see any benefit to the US from being the leader of the free world?

    You didn’t earn that by taking no risks. Right now the US runs the risk of being dismissed as a less efficient version of Switzerland. In Syria almost irrelevent.

    If no benefit, then fine, move over and let someone else do it.If benefit, then be realistic about how you get and keep the crown.

    Considering the trouble we’ve brought on ourselves getting into various swamps around the world Switzerland isn’t looking bad.

    • #29
  30. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Jamie Lockett:Good stuff, Claire. I think you’ve done a great job over your last few posts of dealing with the actual facts behind the refugee crisis and addressing the reality of what this means for the United States. Unfortunately, the pure visceral and emotional reaction of the opponents of these refugees won’t really be affected by reasoned argument.

    None of the reasoned argument includes details of how these refugees become integrated into the American culture.  I wonder why?

    Here’s a guess:  because there’s now a city in America that broadcasts a call to prayer from loudspeakers.

    Anyone supporting importing more and more refugees need to also explain how they will prevent enclaves of anti-American culture from being established throughout the country.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/for-the-first-majority-muslim-us-city-residents-tense-about-its-future/2015/11/21/45d0ea96-8a24-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

    • #30

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