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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum


  1. Bibi Netanyahu's Full-Employment Plan for Asylum Attorneys

    Perhaps you've heard about the plan by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to derail U.S.-Iranian negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. Many Republican leaders have joined the effort, and 47 Senators (all Republican) led by Tom Cotton wrote an open letter to the Ayatollahs warning them against a deal. All this is in the public record.

    Senator Tom Cotton: Warmonger or job creator?

    What's less well known is the role of a powerful lobbying group, which has pushed efforts in Congress and in the media to end negotiations before any agreement is reached. The group is known by its acronym: AIPAC. No, no, not that AIPAC. I speak of the "Asylum and Immigration Professionals Advancing Chaos" lobby, also known as "the Other AIPAC."

    Why would asylum and immigration professionals want to advance chaos, you ask. Although I shouldn't do it, I'll let you in on a little secret: Chaos is good for our business. Let's face it--the more things suck over there, the more likely people are to come here. And when they come to the United States, they need immigration and asylum lawyers to help them stay. Move over Big Tobacco and Big Oil; make room for Big Asylum!

    The Other AIPAC has a record of success. Take, for example, the Second Gulf War in 2003. Before the U.S. invasion, our friend Mr. Netanyahu told Congress, "If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region." I'm not sure about that, but taking out Saddam's regime has certainly had positive reverberations in the region of my wallet. Scores of Iraqi asylum-seekers have hired me since we "brought democracy" to Iraq. Thank you, Bibi and the Other AIPAC!

    What's so wonderful about the Other AIPAC is that people seem to accept what it says despite all evidence to the contrary. For example, Mr. Netanyahu recently indicated that he would never cede territory to the Palestinians: "[T]here will be no concessions and no withdrawals," he said. He apparently views the land as vital to Israeli security. But what say the people who are actually experts in Israeli security. In contrast to Mr. Netanyahu's position, over 180 retired Israeli security officials--high ranking members of the military and intelligence services who have devoted their lives to protecting Israel--have strongly endorsed a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians and a two-state solution:

    We believe that it is imperative, possible, and urgent to launch an Israeli regional initiative to determine borders that ensure security for the citizens of Israel and a firm Jewish majority. Such an initiative will strengthen Israeli society from within; allow for more effective handling of security threats; create dramatic political, security and socio-economic transformation; and enhance Israel’s international standing.

    So does this mean that Mr. Netanyahu's position is actually endangering Israel? Is he substituting self-delusion for reasoned analysis? No matter, the Other AIPAC has got his back. More chaos = more business, that's our mantra.

    But, you ask, what about Iran? Mr. Netanyahu says that we know enough about the current, not-yet-negotiated deal to know that it is worse than no deal at all. It will leave Iran able to produce a nuclear weapon in a short period of time, it will lift all restrictions on Iran's nuclear program after 10 years, it won't stop Iran's aggression in places like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, or its sponsorship of terrorism. He gives us a simple alternative: Tighten the sanctions and hold out for a better deal. Sounds reasonable, no?

    Well, let's ask the experts. The same group of retired generals that oppose Mr. Netanyahu on Palestine also opposed his speech to Congress:

    [T]here is not a single security expert that doesn't understand that after this speech, Iran will not be distanced from the nuclear option it is attempting to achieve. The people of the US see the rift between the countries and the leaders, the people of Israel see it, and no less importantly, the people of Iran see it.

    The international coalition of countries that has been squeezing Iran, and that forced them to negotiate, has been led by the Obama Administration. To be fair, the effort to isolate Iran began under the Bush Administration. But the sanctions have been significantly expanded under Mr. Obama.

    Perhaps--as Mr. Netanyahu proposes--we could continue to tighten the screws on Iran, and our coalition partners would follow along. Or maybe, as many experts believe, increasing sanctions would cause the coalition to fall apart. Then, I suppose we could go it alone. Unilateral sanctions work so well, after all. Just ask Cuba. But again, all of this is of no consequence to the Other AIPAC. We say, "Tighten those sanctions! To hell with the coalition! Bring on the chaos!"

    Ignore the experts, block all negotiation, pander to the base with angry statements about Iran, put partisanship ahead of policy. This is the Other AIPAC's recipe for chaos. And, as we know, chaos is good for business.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
  2. Dear House Republicans: Hate the Government? Go Live in a Country Without One

    At the heart of the Republicans' intransigence on the budget and the debt ceiling, and their willingness to shut our government down in order to (sort-of) block Obamacare, lies an utter contempt for America's government and its employees. A willingness to disrespect, blame, and penalize government "bureaucrats" for everything and anything. They love to quote President Reagan's old trope: "Government is the problem." Well, I have a proposal for you--if you hate government so much, why not try living in a country without one?

    As an asylum attorney, many of the people I represent come from countries without decent governments. They come to America because in their countries, there is no security, no jobs, no justice. Let me tell you about some of my clients.

    One is a woman from Afghanistan who was pushed into an engagement by her family and her fiance's family. The woman was highly educated and accomplished. In her job, she helped hundreds of people and she met with many high-level officials, including a U.S. Secretary of State. Her fiance threatened to kill her if she continued her work or education. Did her government help her? No, in Afghanistan, women have no rights when it comes to family matters. She had to come to our government for help, and she received asylum.

    I represented a policeman from Nepal who had worked and fought against Maoist guerrillas. Although many outside observers (including the U.S. government) consider the Maoists a terrorist group, they managed to enter politics and eventually take power in Nepal. The result was that when the guerrillas attempted to kill my client, there was no one to protect him. He fled the country and received refuge here.

    Another client was a man from El Salvador whose relatives were murdered by gang members. The Salvadoran government was unable to control the gang, and so the man fled to the U.S., where he received protection.

    I've represented an old lady from Iraq. A Shi'ite militia kidnapped her son. There was no one to protect the family, so she paid a ransom to have the son released. After that, the militia continued to extort and threaten her until she came to the U.S. and received asylum.

    The list goes on and on, and it's not just an absence of government; it's bad government: A Falun Gong practitioner who was beaten by Chinese officials; a Somali man, shot in the leg by militiamen; an Ethiopian political activist beaten and tortured by police; a political activist from Zimbabwe who was raped by police after she attended a political rally; a Rwandan Tutsi woman who saw her family members murdered in front of her; a Syrian doctor held in a torture prison; a Russian political activist stripped of his citizenship and threatened; a gay man from Egypt beaten by the police; a lesbian from Serbia who was gang raped. And on and on and on. And that's not counting all the corruption and discrimination that are endemic in most governments around the world, but which would not form the basis for an asylum claim.

    From my point of view, there is great value in an honest (or at least mostly honest) bureaucracy. To disrespect our government workers, to punish them and hold them hostage to a political agenda, and to crush their morale is not just a disgrace. It demonstrates a shocking naivete about how the world works, and about how governments and economies work. Such naivete might be excusable in a college freshman enchanted by Ayn Rand, but it is criminally negligent in an elected official.

    Since they don't have the votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act--a law that has been properly voted on and survived a Supreme Court challenge, not to mention the re-election of President Obama--House Republicans have just shut the government down. They couldn't do that to the United States and its employees unless they had utter contempt for those employees. That attitude moves our country in the direction of places without a good government; places like Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

    So, House Republicans, I invite you to visit countries where government really is the problem. Or speak to my clients, who understand all too well what that means. Maybe if you were not so ignorant, you would be a bit more respectful of the people who keep our country great, our government employees.

    Originally posted on the Asylumist:
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