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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, November 20, 2015

An open letter to those in favor of Syrian refugees

In the last few days, I have been involved on FB and on blogs about the idea of allowing in Syrian refugees.  To be fair, can any of you say you see this as anything but just what's happening in Europe- hundreds of thousands of economic parasites trying to make a better life in lands they hate?  It is a real cluster over there, and I can't believe that anyone in their right mind wants to see that here.  I use that qualifier because seemingly even the most intelligent have been reduced to a meme battle- and I call out specifically one liberal blogger who is wasting his proven intellect by engaging in such fear baiting as "conservative xenophobes" and "Christian hypocrites".  But he is far from alone, as the distinction between refugee and immigrant has also been contested as a result of a meme that (not quite correctly) labelled the Chattanooga shooter as a refugee.

Enter a link written by a man named Scott Hicks, who names himself an immigration lawyer.  His piece was a detailed, step by step description of what he says is the current refugee vetting process.  Mind you, I am not disputing him at all, and if the story is true, then we should be looking at our leaders fighting resettlement and saying, "What is your problem?"  (You can read his full story here.)

But here's the thing.  IF this story is true, then President Obama (or any candidate that wants to make the anti-refugee crowd look like idiots) could shut down this whole thing by going on national TV and saying, "I understand your fears.  Here is how the law protects you.  And I pledge to follow the letter of the law."  At that point, the argument against refugees loses all teeth.

But he hasn't, and neither has anyone else.  Instead, he uses the same fear-baiting you see on social media, "The GOP is afraid of women and children."  THIS DOES NOT ADD UP, now does it?  The inaction of the President, though it is yet another example of his unwillingness to lead a united people, makes no real sense.  To me, one can reach only one of three possible conclusions:

1- The story isn't true, and he knows it.  I tend not to agree with this conclusion, because Hicks' article seems too well put together.  However, if it IS true, this leads to the next conclusion:

2- President Obama is a big jackass, playing partisan politics to the detriment of both refugees and the Nation he is supposedly leading.  However, the fact that so many other assumedly intelligent men are following right along with him tends to shift one back towards conclusion #1.  And while I have no problem in seeing Obama as helplessly clueless, the sheer volume of lemmings pouring over the stupidity cliff with him leads to:

3- President Obama has in mind to skirt the law like he does so many others and "fast track " refugees in, casting caution to the wind to give himself a greater legacy and let Hillary deal with the repercussions.  Thus, it would not serve his best interests to point out the law he'll soon be ignoring.  This would be the most logical thought, save for that same trail of lemmings still going over the cliff.

-a) This could mean that there is absolutely no intelligent life in Washington, DC;

-b) This could mean that the conspiracy theorists are right and both parties are working for the Illuminati or the NWO or whatever the flavor of the week is.  (Keep in mind that believing this scenario may also require believing that Sandy Hook and last weekend in Paris never really happened and the US government flew planes into the Twin Towers);

-c) This could mean that both parties and their minions are so blinded by ideological BS and hate that common sense is a virtue they can no longer afford.

To me, I kinda think 3 (c) covers it nicely.  So in closing, I have NO PROBLEM with Syrian immigrants under the system Scott Hicks outlined.  I have BIG PROBLEM with any Euro style open door policy, any "fast track" approvals, and the level of gameplaying going on one way or the other.  I'm sure that most combatants in the battle will now name me a xenophobe racist hypocrite or a communist collaborator, but I don't really care.  If you were listening to anything but your own soundbites, you'd see I'm at last making sense.  Thanks to my wonderful FB friend for steering me to Hicks' article, thanks to Mr Hicks for a well-written explanation.  And Mr. President?  If you are done insulting me, I think an explanation is in order...


  1. Well put C.W.!! It makes sense to me and I don't think any of those names describe you. You're a smart, intelligent citizen of this country who is concerned about our safety that falls into the hands of our leader. It's a legitimate concern.

    1. Good, no one suspects I am a Communist agitator then... er, thank you!

  2. I just got word that FB might remove his post due to complaints. I'll put it here in my comments just to be safe:

    Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.
    I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.
    The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.
    First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.
    Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.
    We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.
    First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
    Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.
    Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.
    Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.

  3. Part Two:
    The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.
    At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.
    Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
    Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.
    Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
    This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.
    The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
    Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
    Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
    Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
    Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

  4. Having read the process refugees go through, my suspicious mind says that the President intends to "fast track" these refugees. As you say, by detailing the law/process as this man has done would allay the fears of many, if not all, citizens. Since Obama has not done that, it seems to me that he doesn't plan to go this route. Sigh.

    1. A meme I just read claims Obama needs refugees here "so he can declare Marshall Law." I replied to the poster "It might be more convincing if the meme writer could spell Martial correctly.

  5. Chris:
    I think the puzzle pieces all fit nicely together on this issue.
    (shame people are using a hammer to MAKE them fit,)
    However, I personally believe that the REAL problems connected to the MAIN issue are never fully addressed, so any ":solution" to a problem not defined becomes rendered folly (at best).

    With that said, I want to know:
    1) Why are so many people TRYING to "equate IMMIGRANTS to REFUGEES?
    Last time I checked there was a BIG difference, but many treat one JUST like the other. Not so.
    2) WHY are we seemingly ONLY taking the MUSLIM crowd into America? I thought that OVER A MILLION CHRISTIAN SYRIANS were fleeing their country under penalty of DEATH (by the Muslims)?
    3) WHY have all the OTHER Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East NOT stepped up to "help their brethren"?

    Anyone else asking such questions, and if not, why not?
    Let's not forget that the FEDS are actively PLACING these Muslims in cities ALL OVER the USA...and the governors of the states that are relocation areas are NEVER told WHERE they are placed, or HOW MANY are supposed to be coming. Ditto for the MAYORS of the cities IN the states.
    (Yet, King Henry of Ft. Wayne signs onto a letter to Congress drafted by the mayor of BALTIMORE - that racially problematic city as it is - as well as Comrade DiBlasio of NYC in FAVOR of relocating refugees HERE)
    Sorry, that hasn't worked out well for France (with a 7%+ Muslim population) so far, has it?

    Our "Whiner-In-Chief" said he would "fundamentally transform" America, and he's doing a bang-up job (to the chagrin of a growing number of REAL Americans).
    Sorry, I like OUR America much better (the way it was, or should be).

    That's just my 2 cents.

    Very good post and comments.
    Stay safe up there, brother.

    1. Equating refugees and immigrants is what got me in trouble. My words- "the difference between a refugee that hates this country and an immigrant that hates this country is minimal." The other commenter gave your reasoning, and really gave me heck for it. I pointed out that I DID say "...who hates this country..." and was told I was just being divisive because, of course, there IS a difference between a refugee and an immigrant. So I tried again- "I don't care What they are or How they got here, if they hate this country, send them somewhere else" and suggested that IF they have to leave their country, perhaps they'd be more comfortable in a Muslim nation of similar values like Turkey. Oh, but while there is such a thing as Christian charity (which we are expected to go by even though "we aren't a Christian nation", Muslim charity would seem to be an oxymoron.

    2. Chris:
      Oh, I get where YOU'RE coming from...MY contention with the MAIN difference is that an IMMIGRANT basically WANTS to come here (like the Ellis Island crowds), but a REFUGEE doesn't really want to come HERE (and is being taken to another land) - we just happen to be "convenient", even if we're 10,000 miles away from THEIR homeland.
      Figure that one out.
      ANYONE who hates this country needs to vamoose. Totally agree there, and that INCLUDES anti-American "Americans".
      I don't see anything you've said as being divisive in ANY way.
      Muslim charity = oxymoron...sounds right to me...heh.

      Just wanted to help clarify stuff here, brother.
      Stay safe.

  6. I honestly don't know what to think anymore. The compassionate part of me wants to say, "hey, these people need a safe place to go." But the cautious and weary part says, "To what extent and what risk?" Is there an option to help them in their own country? And at what cost to us? Can we set up an area in our own country or does that turn into camps? And don't we need to secure our own borders to the north and south before we worry about additional people being allowed safe haven? I don't know. I feel like we're so worried about other people in other countries we've forgotten about our own residents. When will we be concerned about our homeless people? Our own veterans? Shouldn't we address those issues first? I digress.

    1. I don't see that as digression- I see that as a very valid, very huge point. Obama sees it as, "Immigrants and refugees vote Democratic." Increasingly, I think that's all the GOP sees, too.

    2. As far as compassion, is it compassionate to gamble that our kids won't be killed or maimed by an ISIS infiltrator? Doesn't sound very compassionate to me.
      Then again, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane this morning, so this whole thing may be rendered moot.
      Happy Holidays!

    3. Those whacky Turks.. "Let's get together and party like we used to..."

  7. People need to understand the difference between immigrants and refugees, especially during a significantly sensitive time right now.

    Excellent points made here!

    1. I honestly don't know that the difference between immigrant and refugee is as important security-wise as the difference between "We're glad to be here" and "We're hiding out inside the great Satan." If you are happy to be here for the right reasons, welcome home. If you're like the nutbags in Belgium sympathizing with the Paris attackers of the douches in Turkey booing a moment of silence, then don't let the screen door hit you.

  8. Interesting perspective and comments.
    I see some folks want to make an issue over religion but the USA has no religion litmus test.
    I see some folks want to make it a matter of heightened security even though the admission requirements are already quite high. And yet at the same time, there are numerous people of the same ethnicity (that have the "let's be cautious" people wanting tighter controls) who are admitted to the USA under student visas on a very regular basis without any heightened security measures.
    Being Jewish, I cannot profess to be a good Christian or to be an expert on what Jesus would say about all this; however, I do wonder what Jesus would say.
    Incidentally, I find there are people who state they are not xenophobic but none-the-less make remarks that put all Syrians or Arabs or Muslims or some other ethnic grouping into one big negative category. Definitions from a variety of internet dictionaries - xenophobia: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries; fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign; hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers or of their politics or culture: extreme ​dislike or ​fear of ​foreigners, ​their ​customs, ​their ​religions, etc.; xenophobe: A person who is fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or of people from different countries or cultures.
    While we often disagree, Chris, I do appreciate your contributions; and I respect your right to your opinion.
    And by all means, feel free to call me out by name when you disagree with me (or even if you happen to agree with me) or when you feel I have gone off base. I take responsibility for my own words, behaviors, and actions; and I should be held accountable for them.

    1. Thank you for this comment. I appreciate that you have taken the time to do so (Although I admit I just had to delete a three-quarters finished and quite witty post that your comment rendered null and void.)

      I guess the thing that gets me with your posts is I would like to see you use your own thoughts rather than always with the quotes, memes, etc. I would rather you make me react thoughtfully than snarkilly, which you know I am want to do.

      "I see some folks want to make it a matter of heightened security even though the admission requirements are already quite high. " As you see from the comment section, I learned this after the fact. My question, as I posed on your comment section to dale, is "Why?" President Obama had all the opportunity and reason in the world to absolutely bury Congress and the GOP governors. His actions didn't ease tensions, they helped CREATE them.

      I often wonder what Jesus would say, but in the context we are talking about, His perspective is the big picture, not the politics. I figure he would have us treat individuals as they would want to be treated, and file the rest under "render unto Caesar." But that's just me.

      If it was just a matter of differing cultures to me, I wouldn't have given the whole thing two shakes. But I have been watching in detail what is happening in Europe- the EU is now basically paying off Turkey to shut the border, nod nod wink wink. Germany today came out and said IS and other Islamists are coming to the refugees and winning them over by promises of "helping them practice their faith", and Europe can't figure it out because they think swinging the doors open should be enough to make them love 'em. Which brings up an important point: When that BBC reporter went through that belgian town and talked to many who sympathized with the terrorists, were THEY not being xenophobic?

      I have worked in a plant that was 90% Mexican (illegals by the way they ran when an INS rumor hit the plant), I work now with several ladies from Thailand and one sweetie from South Sudan. There is a difference between hating/fearing someone and not wanting to open the front door to them without checking them out. Except to the media, where all those advising caution are bigots.

      That is why I think, while your one man war on xenophobia is a good thing, doing it by memes and links is going to have the opposite effect on those you would need to reach to be successful. That is why I was grateful that a friend posted the Scott Hicks article. Had THIS been the news story, all of this would have blown away.

      So tell me, why do you think Obama, Congress, the governors, and the media ALL ignored it?

    2. Q: "So tell me, why do you think Obama, Congress, the governors, and the media ALL ignored it?"
      A: They are all playing to their respective audiences. Regardless of perspective, politicos are trying to retain their own constituency and excite them into a fervor. The media - well the media is the media - and their only interest is to get the largest share of the market. Controversy sells good news does not sell. So, the media adheres to the system of the barker of PT Barnum mania.
      As for my use of memes and the lessening of my own individual commentary, I have also taken the clue from PT Barnum, in addition to having some serious personal concerns on the home-front that require much more of my time that could otherwise be used in being the witty scribe to which I aspire.

  9. I really think communication is more effective in a real life face-to-face personal two-way interaction accompanied by body language and other nonverbal cues than it is in one-way written format.