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, 09-18-2015 at 09:20 AM (5249 Views)
In the wake of what is being called the worst humanitarian crisis since WW2, the US has admitted on a tiny trickle of the estimated 4 million refugees who have fled Syria since the start of the civil war there 4 years ago: 1,500 per year according to Justin Salhani, writing in ThinkProgress on September 9. See: Security Concerns, Islamophobia Preventing U.S. from Pitching In On Syrian Refugee Crisis
Now, according to the above article, sentiment to admit more Syrians is growing in the US, fueled in part by the tragic photo of a drowned Syrian toddler which was widely circulated this month. Also according to this article, no less than Donald Trump himself has spoken out in favor of admitting more Syrian refugees.
Using his typical eloquence and stirring words of inspiration, Trump was quoted in the above article as saying the following to Fox News' Bill O'Reilly on September 8 about the "unbelievable humanitarian problem" of the Syrian refugees:
"I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what's happening, you have to."
What is stopping America from admitting a realistic number of refugees from Assad's barrel bombs and chemical weapons on the one hand, or ISIS beheadings and crucifixions, on the other?
Of course, Americans are conditioned by the media, not to mention some of our leading politicians, to think "terror" every time we hear the word "Muslim", just as we think "ebola" whenever we hear about West Africa, or "drugs" and "gangs" whenever Mexico is mentioned.
This is not to say that that security considerations are not extremely important, especially with regard to admitting immigrants from the Middle East. But is it really impossible to do meaningful security checks on Syrian refugees, a large proportion of whom are women and young children? Or is there also a chance that security considerations are being overblown for political reasons?
Salhani points out that security clearances are hardly being overlooked with regard to Syrian refugees:
"While security concerns are natural, refugees are heavily vetted by groups like the United Nations who use iris scanning technology. American intelligence agencies also coordinate with their Middle Eastern counterparts to weed out any Syrians who may have links to extremists groups. Furthermore, each refugee is thoroughly vetted by American officials before they are granted resettlement.
'They check people so thoroughly before they arrive,' Daniel Grisgraber, a Senior Advocate at Refugees International, told ThinkProgress shortly after the hearing [by a House subcommittee dealing with Syrian refugees last June].'Everyone understands security concerns but we can't let worries over terrorism or counterterrorism overrule international law or humanitarian commitments.'"
The above caveat is especially appropriate in the case of politicians such as Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex), who has been exceptionally vocal about the alleged security risks of letting in Syrian refugees, while having a solid, across the board, anti-immigrant record himself on everything from border fences to mass deportation.
Security is too important, too vital to the welfare and safety of the American people, to be used as a political tool by people who may have an ideological ax to grind against immigration in general.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For the past 30 years, he had been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas, green cards, and US citizenship. His email is email@example.com