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Jason Dzubow on Political Asylum

Dear House Republicans: Hate the Government? Go Live in a Country Without One

Rating: 3 votes, 3.67 average.
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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  1. HT-conservative's Avatar
    Conservatives do NOT hate government. It's the continuing intrusion into what is individual liberties, and the overreaching of the federal government into what Constitutionally is the rights of the state governments, that's what we vehemently oppose. In all negotiations on budgetary matters heretofore, and, in all negotiations that occur between parties indeed, there is give and take. But this administration and the party that it represents is treating those who represent the true will of the people regarding the vast overreach that is the un"Affordable Care Act" like treats the enemy, calling us terrorists, and other such terms. We simply explain how bad the law is. They respond by name calling (as they have no support for their position on the so-called "law"). But we believe our position is right and in line with the Constitution, and we will stand up for what we believe, and not roll over. Dzubow, it is our country too, and we will stand up for it, we do NOT have to leave. You're taking the same diversionary and name-calling tactic that the Democrats have. And it doesn't belong in a rational discussion involving immigration and asylum.
  2. grenadier's Avatar
    If one doesn't like the policies forced upon us by the national government, who else should we blame? If we lived in Franco's Spain and we were, oh, say, Catalan separatists...whom would we blame for the situation we found ourselves in? If you were a Jew in Germany in 1938, whom would you blame for the government's policies, if nor the government itself? In the present case the Obama regime has essentially forced the entire nation into a 180o turn from its former, and traditional, course. Many Americans, maybe even in some degree most Americans, resent and resist those changes. It is not just Obamacare that is the impetus...there have been many other egregious acts of ever-expanding governmental control over the people, and not by any means in this administration alone. When the national government is in a constant state of expansion, intrusion, control and regulation, whom should we blame for this if not that government itself?
    And let's shelve the myth that government employees are all hard working little beavers who exist solely to provide assistance and care to those of us who come hat in hand for help! Far from the truth! I worked for many years in two large government agencies and while there are certainly some dedicated souls in every department, my experience has been that most federal civil servants, at least in Washington, are affirmative action desk-fillers, graduates of the DC school system, with beautiful fingernails and cauliflower ears from chatting on their cellphones most of the day. If the visitor is fortunate, he just may find one who will deign to direct him to the mans room! Certainly not the crowd I want handling my medical arrangements!
    Your response is a cop-out. The proper (and American) response is to do exactly what is finally being done now: if you don't like it, change it!
  3. JDzubow's Avatar
    Sorry, but you are both wrong - to compare the ACA to Nazi Germany is just plain silly - it is rhetoric that makes sense only to those who already hate Obama and anything he does. If you think US government workers are not good, you have obviously not traveled much. Of course there are problems, but compared to many countries - including countries where my clients come from - we are lucky to have such a corruption free workforce. As for the idea that Conservatives hate the government, it is pretty clear that the right wing conservative DO hate the government. They tell us all the time, and now that a law has been passed and survived a Supreme Court challenge, they want to "negotiate" about it. If they had the votes to overturn it, that would have happened in 2010 or 2012. It did not. So here we - shut down the government because you have the power to do so, but not the power to overturn the law. Honey, if you don't let me paint the dining room blue, I'll burn the house down.
  4. HT-conservative's Avatar
    That is the constitutional process. And this 'slimdown' (it's not a "shutdown" no matter what they say) is NOT unprecedented, despite this administration's attempts to say otherwise. 17 times since the administration of Gerald Ford has this occurred, and EVERYTIME except NOW, the WH occupant has negotiated with Congress, who represent the people much more closely than he does. The idea, to say it's a "duly passed" and "vetted" (by SCOTUS) law, thus can't be changed, is bogus at its core, as the administration has, 19 times already, without the consent of Congress who passed the law. Talk about unconsitutional acts. Get off it Jason. You are wrong. This is our right to negotiate however we can, constitutionally. It's the current WH occupant who's acting disgracefully (closing, at extra expense, formerly 24/7 open monuments across the country) and who is acting in bad faith.
  5. JDzubow's Avatar
    You can negotiate and change the law. But the Right is shutting most government functions down in order to do that,. Sorry, but our system works only when people respect the process. That is not what is happening here. If you don't like the ACA, repeal it, don't hold the rest of government hostage.
  6. Lynn Atherton Boxham's Avatar
    I am a libertarian who writes from a pro libertarian pro immigration position. On various issues I find myself in league with Democrats and other times with Republicans. On this issue the Republicans are correct. The ACA plan is fatally flawed from both a moral and economic evaluation. The efforts to block its implementation is a wise and prudent course. May I suggest their grasp of basic economics is far superior to the typical Democrats and especially as it applies to this HealthCare plan.

    Also of note is that almost all the terrible situations that you evidently bravely and ably defended were examples of all powerful governments and powerless people who had only the recourse of asylum. I am relieved they gained it (unlike many others) mostly because of your hard work I am sure. Governments always seeks to expand its power. The Republicans are right to work to control that power.
  7. JDzubow's Avatar
    Hi Lynn - The issue for me is not whether Republicans or Democrats are correct on the policy. The issue is that the Republicans shut down the government because they did not have the votes to repeal the ACA. This strategy reflects a very fundamental disrespect for government and its employees. The fact that the House has voted (for now) to fund government employees is a positive development, but it does not cure the basic problem - a lack of respect for government employees. If these House members were more familiar with bad government, maybe they would be a little more respectful of the government we have.
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