Contra Mozilla

Friday, November 20, 2015

Refugees Redux

As I noted yesterday, "Welcoming the stranger and housing the homeless are works of mercy. Refugees would certainly fall under this, and so we should seek to do what we can to help them: but not at the cost of allowing a flood of terrorists easy access to their targets. Unfortunately, these seem to be the two alternatives: turn away the stranger in need (not a good option) or allow in a flood of people who are a mix of refugees, legitimate asylum-seekers, and opportunistic terrorists."

 Me, I think we should consider building livable (but high-security) refugee camps, which gives us time to screen these people while also providing them temporary asylum in the meantime. I would also recommend expediting aide to Christians (the group actually being persecuted), widows, and orphans, or at least to these latter two groups if the first cannot be done feasibly. I would place these camps in relatively remote areas so that they do not have easy access to potential terrorist targets.

I think we should supply these camps with the basic necessities of food and water, shelter and clothing, and medical attention as needed and available. We should also allow for visits by clerics, be they Imams of priests or whatnot, according to the requests of said refugees--I think that religious freedom also applies to foreigners. It also occurs to me that the Christian refugees should be separated from the Muslim ones as much as possible if they request it--there is a reason why Christians are fleeing the area.

In short, I basically agree with the assessment of Dr. Taylor Marshal, and of the CATO Institute's Mr. Alex Nowrasteh. The latter notes that
About 4 million Syrians were forced out of the country by the conflict. Since October 2014, the United States has let in just 800 Syrian refugees. There are security concerns with Syrian refugees and the government needs to thoroughly review their individual backgrounds before allowing them to settle here, but more should be allowed to do so.

Settling here is just the first step; assimilation and integration are also important. Fortunately, past success bodes well for current groups....

The goal of the Office of Refugee Resettlement is economic self-sufficiency — refugees working and supporting themselves without public assistance. That is a worthy goal, but more strict denials of means-tested welfare or blocking it entirely for refugees can speed up integration.

Fewer welfare benefits mean that refugees more rapidly enter the labor market, search for jobs and work with Americans on a daily basis. Work boosts self-confidence, which increases refugee satisfaction and contentment with their new homes. A growing economy combined with smaller welfare benefits in Richmond, Va. helped to rapidly integrate that city’s refugee population in the 1980s and 1990s.

American taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill. Refugees have access to some means-tested welfare benefits before other immigrants do; that should end. Churches, charities and mutual aid associations should fulfill that responsibility.

There are over 150,000 Americans of Syrian descent, with a median household income of over $65,000, compared to about $53,000 for native-born Americans. They can help ease Syrian refugees into life in the United States. It’s enough for the U.S. government to allow more peaceful Syrians who have passed through national security, criminal and health checks to settle here — the government should not, and does not, need to support them.
There is a crisis in Syria, thanks both to the revolution and its exasperation of and by the rise of ISIS. We should help as we can: this is charity, mercy. We should go about it in a manner which minimizes the risk of allowing terrorists to slip through and commit an attack against us: this is prudence, justice.

UPDATE: Why are there so few (yes, few) Christian refugees from Syria? Given that they are the heavily-persecuted minority, you would naively believe that they should be over-represented rather than heavily under-represented among refugees. With my emphases:
Many Americans would happily have us take in some nice Syrians who have nowhere in the Middle East to turn, who are hunted, plundered, raped, sold and sometimes murdered. And since we have limited capacity in a world of more than 7 billion people, it makes sense to focus on those who have nowhere safe in the Middle East to turn. Yes, Sunni and Shiite Muslims persecute each other in the Middle East, but each group has Sunni or Shiite enclaves they can retreat to in the region. The Christians, meanwhile, aren’t even safe in the refugee camps.

So dangerous are the camps for Syrian Christians that they mostly avoid them. And the UN does its refugee head-counting in the refugee camps. If the Christians aren’t there to be counted, desperate as they are, then they don’t end up on the asylum lists the U.S. State Department uses for vetting potential refugees.... 
As bad off as the Muslim refugees are, they aren’t without politically well-connected advocates in the Middle East. Many Muslim powerbrokers are happy to see Europe and America seeded with Muslim immigrants, and would surely condemn any U.S. action that appeared to prefer Christian over Muslim refugees, even if the effort were completely justified. By and large, they support Muslim immigration to the West and have little interest in seeing Christian refugees filling up any spaces that might have been filled by Muslim refugees.

The deck, in other words, is heavily stacked against the Christian refugees.... 
And, by the way, while some have tried to equate Jewish refugees back then with Muslim refugees today, that argument doesn’t work. Muslim migrants have many places to turn to in the Middle East. But like the Jews under the shadow of Hitler, today’s Middle Eastern Christians under the shadow of radical Islam have precious few options. For many of them in this vale of tears, America is their last best hope for refuge.
This further underscores why I think that just opening the borders to Syrian refugees is the wrong approach, and also why I think that the Christian refugees should be separated from the Mohammedan ones as much as possible.

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