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House Syrian Refugee Bill: Security or Anti-Muslim Xenophobia? By Roger Algase

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Nolan Rappaport, in his November 24 Immigration Daily article with the succinct and catchy title: Republicans raise legitimate concerns about Syrian refugees, but the bill they have passed to address those concerns would just impose additional layers of bureaucracy on the background investigation process, should be commended for his painstaking and thorough analysis of the bill recently passed by House Republicans, with the support of 47 Democrats (!), relating to procedures for background investigation of Syrian refugees seeking to come into the United States.

While I do not necessarily agree with all of Nolan's points, I believe that his careful analysis can help answer the most fundamental question which arises about this bill: is it a good faith attempt to deal with genuine security concerns which may be presented by admitting several thousand mainly Muslim Syrian refugees to the United States?

Or is the House bill merely one more demagogic attempt to take advantage of anti-Muslim prejudice for political advantage in the wake of the Paris attacks, along the line of Donald Trump's unconstitutional, quasi-fascist, threat to close down mosques, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's pronouncement that no Muslim refugee children under the age of 5 will be allowed into his state (though he has not yet closed down the George Washington Bridge to stop this serious threat to the safety and security of his constituents - c'mon, Governor, what are you waiting for?), or the despicable, profoundly un-American threat by the Democratic mayor of Roanoke, Virginia (which he has since apologized for) to bring back WW2 style internment of Japanese-Americans, but this time against Muslims?

In one sense, the House bill's Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has already answered this question by saying that the purpose of the bill is to create a "pause" in Syrian refugee immigration (which is almost non-existent in the US at present anyway), rather than a more effective way to do security screening, but having said the above, let's lake a look at Nolan's analysis and see what conclusions we can draw from it.

First, Nolan cites a report by the Reoublican-controlled House Homeland Security Committee claiming that the admistration's proposal to admit more Syrian refugees would have a "limited impact on alleviating the overall crisis but could have serious ramifications for U. S. Homeland Security".

What is the point of mentioning the "limited impact on alleviating the overall crisis"? Certainly, even if the US were to admit a million Syrian refugees (as Germany, with only one quarter of our population, has offered to do), that alone would still not get rid of the twin causes of the Syrian refugee crisis - Assad's monstrous, Russian and Iranian backed dictatorship, and ISIS's decent into inhuman cruelty and barbarism in the name of religion.

If America had admitted a million, or even two million Jewish refugees in the 1930's, instead of almost closing our borders to them completely, that alone would (in all likelihood) still not have prevented the Holocaust - millions more who were unable to escape the Nazis would still have died, but would that have been a good reason not to admit as many refugees as we could?

Moving on to the second part of the above Committee statement, about the allegedly "serious ramifications for U.S. homeland security," I will look a little more closely at what the Committee (as cited by Nolan) thinks these serious ramifications might be. A closer look will show that at least some of the Committees assumptions, such as that one of the Paris attackers may have entered Europe as a Syrian refugee, has not been borne out by any reliable evidence as of the time of this writing.

Nor has the charge that real terrorists might try to enter the US by posing as refugees so far been shown to be anything other than speculation. This is not to say that the possibility doesn't exist or that no reasonable precautions should be taken against it.

But whether the House bill is such a reasonable precaution, as apposed to a politically motivated propaganda exercise aimed at stirring up fear and hatred against Muslims in general, is something that is open to serious question.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Immigration Daily readers.


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Updated 11-27-2015 at 06:54 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Amadio's Avatar
    Issues of refugees are here for the discussion. The process is intricate and understood. The process is managed for the refugees in the context to pop over to this site for more and more information. The struggle is devised for the good and wonderful means of refugees.
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