Our Open Door Refugee Policy

January 13th, 2011 at 8:09 am | 4 Comments |

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It would come as unwelcome news to the vast majority of Americans that even now, in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and a decade after 9/11, that this country admits upwards of 80,000 refugees each year on little more than the recommendation of a foreign organization and that once here, they compete for low-paying jobs with our high-school graduates.   But that is the essence of our refugee system. Currently, the U.S. must cooperate on refugee relocation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), an arm of the U.N. and other NGOs. When the IOM can’t resettle refugees in a country with refugee camps or where the refugees have relatives who will sponsor them, it places them in countries that have signed on to the U.N. Protocol, meaning some come here. Unfortunately, the U.S.’s current relationship with IOM is unsatisfactory.

An example of the problems with the current system can be seen in the indictment of Mohamud Adbi Yusuf. Yusuf was a refugee from Somalia who allegedly conspired with other Somalis throughout the U.S. to transmit money to Al-Shabaab, a foreign terrorist organization. What background checks were conducted before he was admitted to the U.S.? How did we decide to let him into the country?

The background checks required of refugees fail to get the important security information a host country needs to know. A refugee designated for resettlement in the U.S. must complete a DHS background check.  The forms request basic information (name, country of origin) and security sensitive information such as military service (the militaries of some countries are perpetrators of crimes against civilians). All this is often hard to verify since refugees usually have no access to government records or supporting materials. In practice IOM simply doesn’t ferret out criminals. The refugee interviews it conducts (which are private and confidential, but have turned up on YouTube) are skewed to facilitate the would-be refugee’s desire to be relocated.  The interviewers simply ask why they left their homelands, what would (purportedly) happen to them if they returned. This determines if they are refugees, but doesn’t help the U.S. protect our national security.

There have already been consequences from this, including the disturbing fact that the U.S. has allowed possible war criminals into the country. In United States v. Vidack, a Serbian refugee was convicted for failing to mention on his I-590 that he served in the Army of Republika Srpska (“the Serbian Army”), which according to the U.S. and International Criminal Court, perpetrated thousands of human rights violations in the 1990s.  His membership in that notorious group would have disqualified him from refugee status.  This might be an unremarkable case but for the fact that Mr. Vidack was assisted in his fraud by the IOM, whose translator knew the truth but omitted it from the I-590 and took other steps to conceal it from reaching U.S. officials. Similar situations occurred in United States v. Ubiparipovic and United States v. Boskic.

The refugee program also encourages permanent residency in the refugee’s host country as opposed to temporary sheltering.  A refugee can only be removed from the country if a threat to national security or the “public order” is shown. After one year here, they are required to apply for a green card.  So even if the conditions in their home countries improve, and they are able to return safely, they will likely not be going back.  Refugees become lawful permanent residents, and likely, citizens within 10 years.  This system is not designed for temporary residence in the U.S., as it should be if it were for purely humanitarian.

In addition to relying too heavily on the IOM and other U.N.-affiliated NGOs in vouching for these people, (DNA tests have proven that some refugees have lied about who they claim are “relatives” in the States.) the DHS isn’t doing any better. The DHS’s background check on refugees consists of  running their fingerprints through the FBI’s database, crosschecking their name against names on watch and terrorist lists and with those previously rejected for immigration status.   I don’t see how these cursory cross-checks against databases of known terrorists and criminals could catch anyone who means us ill but just hasn’t already been convicted of a crime or committed a terrorist act.

In light of this, can we even have refugee admissions in the post-9/11 world? The IOM is wedded to its pro-refugee agenda and DHS and other government agencies are incapable of knowing the truth about refugees delivered to our borders by IOM and its affiliates in the NGO world. Its also hard to justify introducing 80,000 job seekers in the U.S. labor market at a time of already high unemployment. Thus, the U.S. should put a halt to admitting refugees until a better system is operable, perhaps even withdrawing from the U.N. refugee apparatus.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • lessadoabouteverything

    informative article.
    “Thus, the U.S. should put a halt to admitting refugees until a better system is operable”
    This I agree with. “perhaps even withdrawing from the U.N. refugee apparatus.” I disagree because there will be no way to make it a worthwhile system if we withdraw. I would hate for thousands of Iraqi Christians to be denied the chance to come to the US out of justifiable fear for their lives because we abandon the system. It is a sad state of the world that at present most refugees are most likely to be pro US, like Iraqi Christians, Coptic Christians, South Sudanese Christians, etc. (I am not stating I am in favor of only letting Christians in, just that at present they are the ones in most danger) Years ago, when Bosnian Muslims were being slaughtered that was not the case but our actions have rescued these people in Kosovo and Bosnia and hence they are not in need of refugee status.

  • Chris Balsz

    Sounds sensible…but…Somalia doesn’t have a functioning government. Who’d do a background check? Who would do a background check in a country like Haiti after the earthquake hit? We don’t really start taking hundres of people as “refugees” unless it’s so obvious chaotic that keeping them in country and shipping in relief won’t save them.

  • Carney

    Excellent article.

    Refugees should in general remain on the continent or in the larger cultural world they come from, to make life in their host country easier. Other than Cuba, the US neighbors no refugee generating country, and should thus take none, although we could financially support refugees, and take in foreigners who have PERSONALLY been useful to our military and intelligence services at great risk to their safety.

    Furthermore, when the regime that caused the problem falls, or a peace agreement has been hammered out, refugees should be politely but firmly SENT HOME. Refugees are not and should not be considered immigrants.

  • Kevin Dean @The Daily Polis

    Your conclusion is strident and unwarranted. Halt acceptance of all refugees to the United States and remove ourselves from the UN convention on refugees because a small minority of them commit or have committed crimes?

    You trivialize the ability of the federal government to deport legal aliens, including refugees, who commit a range of crimes much wider than what you suggest. Unless, by threats to the “public order” you mean:

    “aggravated felonies,” which includes violent crimes that would result in at least a one-year prison term, murder, terrorist activities, rape, sexual assault of a child and statutory rape, a wide range of drug crimes, trafficking in drugs, firearms or people, and crimes of “moral turpitude,” a legalism that includes crimes with intent to steal or defraud, crimes in which physical harm is done or is threatened, crimes in which serious physical harm is caused by reckless behavior, and crimes of sexual misconduct.

    But of course, in case anyone is not convinced by your ambiguous reference to the law, then there’s always the populist favorite: refugees are foreigners and they’ll steal your jobs. Perhaps we should pass some nice hefty protectionist legislation so that our laborers don’t have to compete with foreign laborers, either; foreign laborers who don’t have the offensive daring to be persecuted and seek a better life here, that is.

    Codswallop. http://bit.ly/fn5Q1t