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Bloggings: How Should We Respond to Distorted Charges by Anti-Immigrant Hate Groups? By Roger Algase

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If there is any one feature that defines our democracy, it is the right to free speech. The fact that those with whom we may disagree are free to speak out is a guarantee of our own freedom.


We should therefore be thankful that we live in a country where Ann Coulter is free to imply that a proposal for legalization for unauthorized immigrants was somehow connected to the Boston bombing (even though one of the suspects was a lawful permanent resident and the other is a US citizen), and where Peter Brimelow, an immigrant from the UK, was free to publish his infamous anti-immigrant, white supremacist book Alien Nation in the1990's.


But does this mean that we have to listen to people whose attachment to prejudice against immigrants outweighs any regard for the truth? In his comment of April 24, my colleague Jason Dzubow strongly criticizes Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) for his distorted testimony before a Senate committee. This criticism is fully justified.


First, Jason Dzubow quotes CIS as claiming that the US has naturalized "a few thousand alleged terrorists in recent years", even though it provided only four names, including that of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. This is a throwback to Senator Joseph McCarthy, who, in the 1950's, made unsubstantiated charges about alleged Communists in America which destroyed the careers of many innocent people. 


In addition, one of the statements that Jason Dzubow quotes Mark Krikorian as having made to the Committee is the following, concerning the Tsarnaev family, who immigrated to the US about a decade ago:


"...especially, why were they given asylum since the parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they were fleeing and wanted asylum from?"


Jason Dzubow rightly criticizes this statement for its cynical assumption, without any other evidence, that the father's asylum claim was false. As he points out, the father could have had many reasons for returning to Russia, including, possibly, changed country conditions.


What is also striking is the fact that, according to news reports (see Boston Globe: Suspects' father a familiar face in Cambridge, April 25), approximately a decade elapsed between the father's entry to the US around 2002 and his return to Russia around 2011 or 2012.


How could Mark Krikorian have expected whomever adjudicated the father's asylum claim in 2002 or shortly thereafter to know that the father would decide to return to Russia almost 10 years later?


But CIS is not alone in trying to mislead the public into thinking that the asylum claim which the suspects' father, Anzor Tsarnaev, made soon after arriving in the US in 2002 was fraudulent. On April 23, Peter Brimelow's own organization, V Dare, posted a lengthy and convoluted accusation to the same effect on its website, entitled The Tsarnaev Family: More And More Evidence Of Asylum Fraud.


The gist of this article is that a) Anzor Tsarnaev allegedly could have moved from Russia to Kyrgyzstan, an independent country of which he was allegedly also a citizen, to escape Russia's admittedly brutal history of persecution against ethnic Chechens, to which group Anzor Tsarnaev and his family belonged; b) that he obtained a passport from the same Russian government which was allegedly persecuting him; and, c) that he allegedly falsely stated his intention to return to Russia when he entered the US with a tourist visa.


Anyone familiar with US asylum law would know at a glance that none of the above factors are indications of asylum fraud. Nor do they necessarily render an applicant ineligible for asylum.


According to the above Boston Globe article, and other similar news reports, Anzor Tsarnaev's record in the US was that of a law abiding, hard working man who struggled to support his large family. The horrible acts of terror of which the two sons are suspected do not justify the scurrilous attacks against the father.


But these groundless accusations of asylum fraud are typical of the distorted arguments that the anti-immigrant lobby is using to try to defeat CIR. People motivated by hatred of immigrants should not be allowed to hijack the Boston Marathon bombing suspects' father's asylum grant to try to turn an obvious security issue into an immigration one.


 

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