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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

CIS Uses Boston Attack to Condemn Asylum, Immigration System

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
The "low immigration, pro-immigrant" group Center for Immigration Studies claims
that the "United States has naturalized at least a few thousand alleged
terrorists in recent years." As evidence for this dramatic claim, CIS lists
exactly four (four!) examples of naturalized foreigners who engaged (or
attempted to engage) in terrorist acts, including Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who
is charged in the Boston Marathon bombing.


Hmm... There's something strange about this Naturalization ceremony.



How CIS got from four alleged terrorists to "thousands" is not
explained. Although I often disagree with CIS's conclusions, I've found
them to be generally reliable when it comes to the facts. Not so in this
case. To make such an outrageous and inflammatory claim with almost no
evidence casts doubt on the organization's credibility.

Concerned about the possibility of major immigration reform, is CIS
becoming unhinged? Will they-like so many partisan groups-make all sorts
of unsubstantiated claims in the hope of getting their way (i.e.,
killing immigration reform)?

It seems that in many of our country's policy debates, the end
justifies the means. "Swiftboating" has replaced reasoned debate. I hope
that CIS won't go down this road. Like I say, I often disagree with
CIS, but I recognize the need for different voices in the conversation.
For those voices to make a positive impact, however, they must be
grounded in reality. CIS should correct their unfounded claim that the
U.S. has "naturalized at least a few thousand alleged terrorists," and
issue an apology.

With that as background, I want to turn briefly to CIS's testimony on
Capitol Hill. This past Monday, Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of
CIS testified
about the proposed immigration reform before the Senate Judiciary
Committee. He spoke about the Tsarnaev family who-he said-immigrated to
the United States a decade ago after receiving political asylum. Mr.
Krikorian asked:

Why were they given asylum since they had
passports from Kyrgyzstan and, especially, why were they given asylum
since the parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they
were fleeing and wanted asylum from?

A few points. Maybe this is an immigration-lawyer-geek point, but by
definition, no one immigrates to the U.S. after receiving political
asylum. It is only possible to obtain political asylum if you are
already present in the United States. In the case of the Tsarnaev
family, events are a bit unclear. It appears
that the father came as a non-immigrant to the United States in 2002
with Dzhokhar, and then applied for-and received-political asylum.
Afterward, he brought his wife and minor children (including alleged
bomber Tamerlan) to the United States. Maybe this is a geek point, but
if I were from an immigration organization testifying before Congress, I
would want to get the law and terminology correct.

Second, I do not know how Mr. Krikorian knows that the Tsarnaev
family had passports from Kyrgyzstan. As far as I know, the family were
Russian citizens, and the father was originally from Chechnya, which is
part of Russia. While it appears that at least the younger brother was
born in Kyrgyzstan, this does not necessarily mean that he had a Kyrgz
passport or was a citizen of that country (unlike the U.S., many
countries do not automatically confer citizenship on people born within
their territory). Assuming that the father had Kyrgz citizenship, he
would not have qualified for asylum unless he demonstrated that he had a
well-founded fear of persecution in Kyrgyzstan or that he was not
firmly resettled in that country. As of now, we do not know why the
father received asylum from Russia, let alone from Kyrgyzstan. Suffice
it to say that the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan is no picnic,
and that country has produced several hundred thousand refugees.
While Mr. Krikorian's question (why was the family given asylum if they
had passports from Kyrgyzstan?) is reasonable, the implied answer (that
the family should not have received asylum) is pure speculation.

Finally, Mr. Krikorian asks why the family received asylum since the
parents have moved back to Russia, the country supposedly they were
fleeing. Again, the implication is that the family should not have
received asylum. Mr. Krikorian does not answer his own question, and
indeed, we do not know why the father returned to Russia. Maybe he felt
that conditions had improved and it would be safe for him to return.
Maybe the father was more concerned with his children's safety than his
own, and so once his children were safely in the U.S., he decided to
return. Or maybe-as Mr. Krikorian implies-the asylum case was fraudulent
from the beginning. At this point, we don't know. And while I agree
that we need to explore all aspects of the brothers' history, I am not
sure that the investigation is well served by cynical assumptions that
the father's asylum claim was false.

As I have said, I often disagree with CIS, but I believe they (and
other restrictionist groups) have an important role to play in the
current discussion about immigration and asylum reform. I just believe
that the debate-and the credibility of CIS-would be better served if the
organization speculated a little less, and got the facts right a little
more.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.

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Updated 07-16-2013 at 01:23 PM by JDzubow

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