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We arenít doing enough to help Syrian refugees, but how much more can we do? by Nolan Rappaport

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According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This includes approximately 21.3 million refugees, more than half of whom are under the age of 18. On average, 24 people worldwide were displaced from their homes every minute of every day during 2015 Ė nearly 34,000 people per day. The conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic accounted for more than half of the new refugees in 2015. There also were increases in refugees from Afghanistan, Burundi, and South Sudan.

The United States is not doing as much as it can to deal with this crisis. Under INA Section 207, the maximum annual number of refugee admissions is set by the President, and although section 207 requires a congressional consultation, it does not require congressional approval.

Sec. 207. [8 U.S.C. 1157] (a) (1) Except as provided in subsection (b), the number of refugees who may be admitted under this section in fiscal year 1980, 1981, or 1982, may not exceed .... (2) Except as provided in subsection (b), the number of refugees who may be admitted under this section in any fiscal year after fiscal year 1982 shall be such number as the President determines, before the beginning of the fiscal year and after appropriate consultation, is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest. ....


(b) If the President determines, after appropriate consultation, that (1) an unforeseen emergency refugee situation exists, (2) the admission of certain refugees in response to the emergency refugee situation is justified by grave humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest, and (3) the admission to the United States of these refugees cannot be accomplished under subsection (a), the President may fix a number of refugees to be admitted to the United States during the succeeding period (not to exceed twelve months) in response to the emergency refugee situation and such admissions shall be allocated among refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States in accordance with a determination made by the President after the appropriate consultation provided under this subsection .

For FY2016, the Obama Administration initially proposed a refugee ceiling of 75,000 and held consultations with Congress on that proposal. This included an allocation of 33,000 for the Near East/South Asia, the region that includes Syria. The Administration subsequently announced that it had decided to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees in FY2016, which set the FY2016 refugee ceiling at 85,000. When asked if that increase was sufficient, Hillary Clinton said, ďNow, look, weíre facing the worst refugee crisis since the end of World War II. And I think the United States has to do more. And I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000...Ē But even 65,000 would be a small percentage of the total number of Syrian refugees, so it is difficult to predict how high she would want to go. As President of the United States, she would have unlimited authority to increase the ceiling on Syrian refugees. It is not clear, however, that a large increase would be in our best interests or in the best interests of the refugees.

Although we could provide refuge to the entire population of Syrian refugees, our refugee program is not limited to providing refugees with a safe haven. According to Anna Crosslin, who has been honored as a White House Champion of Change for World Refugees, providing refugees with a safe haven in America is just the first step. We also must help them to thrive in the United States, not just to survive here, and self-sufficiency is an essential part of this. According to the following chart, which was prepared by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship, 91.4% of the Middle Eastern refugees accepted by the U.S. between 2008 and 2013, received food stamps and almost 68.3% received cash welfare.

OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS
Another problem is that the information needed to perform reliable background investigations on Syrian refugees is not available. The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Syria. Consequently, we do not have access to on-the-ground intelligence in Syria. This has been confirmed by government officials who would know of such sources. For instance, an FBI Assistant Director has said, ďThe concern in Syria is that we donít have the systems in place on the ground to collect the information... All of the data sets, the police, the intel services that normally you would go and seek that information [from], donít exist.Ē A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official has stated that the government does not have access to any database in Syria that can be used to check the backgrounds of incoming refugees against criminal and terrorist records. And National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen has explained that, ďthe intelligence picture weíve had of this [Syrian] conflict zone isnít what weíd like it to be... youcan only review [data] against what you have.Ē

The Administration has responded to these concerns by establishing a more elaborate screening process which takes between 18 and 24 months to complete. Frankly, I do not know how additional time helps if the sources being checked do not have the needed information. Moreover, the Administration has cut the processing time back to three months to meet President Obamaís goal of bringing 10,000 Syrian refugees here this year.

Published originally in Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/580bf50ae4b0b1bd89fdb3c6?timestamp=1477337326836

About The Author
Nolan Rappaport
was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an Executive BranchImmigration Law Expert for three years; he subsequently served as the immigration counsel forthe Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims for four years. Prior to workingon the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for twentyyears. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing andCollaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and he has been in private practice asan immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson.

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Updated 10-24-2016 at 04:49 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

Comments

  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Does it really make any sense to assume that we can't get any information about individual refugees from what might well be extensive and well-maintained internal records and databases in the tightly controlled dictatorship in Syria where, at least in the regime-controlled areas, even casual conversations are monitored and saying the wrong thing can easily land someone in jail, according to the current US State Department travel advisory for Syria?

    Can we seriously think that the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world (and I am not talking about Russia) has no way of getting access to these databases? If there is any problem doing that, maybe someone over at Wikileaks might have a few helpful suggestions. Or else, our government could ask private industry to provide the expertise we need to unlock that in all probability not- so secret Syrian government information.

    Maybe Apple Computer, which was after all founded by the pretty savvy child of a Syrian immigrant, might have someone on board who could help. If there is a shortage of qualified American IT specialists to do the job, perhaps some alleged Russian hackers who might be looking for work now that Hillary's and the DNC's emails have been taken care of might be willing to lend America their services, for appropriate remuneration, of course.

    If all else fails, Congress can always raise the H-1B quotas so we can bring in more of the world's most highly qualified professionals to do the job.

    There are just too many reasons being bandied about out there for turning down Muslim Syrian refugees, just as America, to its shame, turned away so many Jewish refugees during WWII.

    Last, November, just about a year ago, The American Holocaust Museum issued a statement urging America not to repeat the tragic rejection of Jewish refugees in the 1930's and 1940's by turning away Syrian refugees now.

    The Holocaust Museum's statement (sorry - I don't have the link handy right now - it is available though Google and was fully reported in the Huffington Post) makes more sense and is more in America's tradition of humanity than engaging in what Federal Circuit Judge Richard Posner aptly calls "nightmare speculation" or what could also be called "scare scenarios" about the Syrian Refugees.

    We should be letting in 100,000 as the very minimum. Of course, we can't take them all - no one is proposing that; it is also just another scare scenario.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law


    Updated 10-24-2016 at 05:34 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  2. Unregistered222's Avatar
    I wonder what the best in the world intelligence of Israel knows about these fake "refugees" that they allow exactly 0 of these people in Israel. One can be sure that the country with the highest IQ in the world, being run by rational and intelligent government caring of their own people is making a right decision.

    Of course, some kangaroo court judge might disagree with this, but this only proves who he is

    By the way, how can they even be called refugees if they are taken out of the refugee camps. There is no fear for their life or health, as these refugee camps are outside Syria.


    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    Does it really make any sense to assume that we can't get any information about individual refugees from what might well be extensive and well-maintained internal records and databases in the tightly controlled dictatorship in Syria where, at least in the regime-controlled areas, even casual conversations are monitored and saying the wrong thing can easily land someone in jail, according to the current US State Department travel advisory for Syria?

    Can we seriously think that the most powerful and technologically advanced country in the world (and I am not talking about Russia) has no way of getting access to these databases? If there is any problem doing that, maybe someone over at Wikileaks might have a few helpful suggestions. Or else, our government could ask private industry to provide the expertise we need to unlock that in all probability not- so secret Syrian government information.

    Maybe Apple Computer, which was after all founded by the pretty savvy child of a Syrian immigrant, might have someone on board who could help. If there is a shortage of qualified American IT specialists to do the job, perhaps some alleged Russian hackers who might be looking for work now that Hillary's and the DNC's emails have been taken care of might be willing to lend America their services, for appropriate remuneration, of course.

    If all else fails, Congress can always raise the H-1B quotas so we can bring in more of the world's most highly qualified professionals to do the job.

    There are just too many reasons being bandied about out there for turning down Muslim Syrian refugees, just as America, to its shame, turned away so many Jewish refugees during WWII.

    Last, November, just about a year ago, The American Holocaust Museum issued a statement urging America not to repeat the tragic rejection of Jewish refugees in the 1930's and 1940's by turning away Syrian refugees now.

    The Holocaust Museum's statement (sorry - I don't have the link handy right now - it is available though Google and was fully reported in the Huffington Post) makes more sense and is more in America's tradition of humanity than engaging in what Federal Circuit Judge Richard Posner aptly calls "nightmare speculation" or what could also be called "scare scenarios" about the Syrian Refugees.

    We should be letting in 100,000 as the very minimum. Of course, we can't take them all - no one is proposing that; it is also just another scare scenario.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law


  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I would like to withdraw my suggestion for admitting 100,000 Syrian refugees in the last paragraph of my above comment. America should be taking in at least 250,000 instead.

    Canada, a nation with only about one tenth of the population of the US, has admitted 25,000 Syrian refugees, also after intensive screening. I am not aware of any reported terror or violent crime incidents in Canada involving Syrian refugees to date..

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  4. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Roger, I'm sorry the world of intelligence gathering doesn't make sense to you. Maybe you should accept the word of the agency officials who are charged with the responsibility of acquiring such information. But what difference does it make now? Hillary is going to win, and she is stating the party line that the 18-24 month background investigations are the most reliable investigations that have ever been done on refugees. No, they were cut back to three months when someone realized that you can't admit 10,000 refugees in a year if you do an 18-24 month investigation on them. And when Hillary raises the number, which could be far more than the 250,000 admissions your are recommending, the three month investigation will be cut back to an hour or so, if it is done at all. They could go back to the pre-9/11 name check investigation that the FBI ran on refugees. No, they never denied a refugee application on the basis of a name check. Big surprise, the refugees whose names were known did not put their real names on their refugee applications. I think George Bush was the favorite. Thousands of George Bushes in the refugee camps.

    Why are you using the 25,000 Syrian refugee admission in Canada as the standard for comparison purposes. Shouldn't you be using Europe? According to a PEW research study, the Europeans blame the rise of terrorism in Europe on the mass incursion of refugees. If you want to find out what happened in Europe, see The refugee crisis is being blamed for the terrorist attacks in Europe (August 2, 2016),
    http://www.ilw.com/articles/2016,0802-Rappaport.pdf
    Updated 10-25-2016 at 02:22 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  5. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I have to admire and respect Nolan's ingenuity, creativity and persistence in finding reasons to keep Syrian refugees out of America, or at least to look on the very few whom we have admitted with anxiety, fear and suspicion. One of the greatest things about our democracy is that there are (at least) two sides to every issue, and no one is better at presenting the negative side about this particular issue than Nolan.

    There is, however another side to the Syrian refugees issue, as far as America is concerned. This is the side that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has taken, together with a number of well known American Jewish organizations and over 1,000 American rabbis, all of whom have been urging America to admit more Syrian refugees on the basis of our county's great humanitarian tradition, and out of a desire to avoid repeating the terrible mistake that America made by turning away thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

    For more details, see my previous Immigration Daily blog posts, as well as my October 25 post: Why Holocaust Museum and Jewish Organizations Have Urged Congress to Admit More Syrian Refugees.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 10-25-2016 at 02:23 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  6. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    I have to admire and respect Nolan's ingenuity, creativity and persistence in finding reasons to keep Syrian refugees out of America, or at least to look on the very few whom we have admitted with anxiety, fear and suspicion. One of the greatest things about our democracy is that there are (at least) two sides to every issue, and no one is better at presenting the negative side about this particular issue than Nolan.

    There is, however another side to the Syrian refugees issue, as far as America is concerned. This is the side that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has taken, together with a number of well known American Jewish organizations and over 1,000 American rabbis, all of whom have been urging America to admit more Syrian refugees on the basis of our county's great humanitarian tradition, and out of a desire to avoid repeating the terrible mistake that America made by turning away thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.

    For more detains, please see my previous Immigration Daily blog posts, as well as my October 25 post: Why Holocaust Museum and Jewish Organizations Have Urged Congress to Admit More Syrian Refugees.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    I am not trying to keep Syrian refugees out. My point is that we should hold off on admitting them until adequate background investigations can be performed. Even Hillary says that they have to be vetted. My difference with her on this is that she thinks that is already happening, and I don't. Roger seems to understand that the vetting isn't adequate, but he doesn't seem to care. That puts him way to the left of Hillary.
  7. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Only one problem with Nolan's argument: he also claims that adequate background checks on the Syrian refugee are impossible. Ergo, keep them all out. There we are - back to the 1930's, when all too many Americans were saying the same thing, or close to it, about Jewish refugees.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
  8. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Who is the biggest loser so far in the imbroglio over FBI Director Comey's October 28 announcement that the FBI has discovered more allegedly Hillary Clinton-connected emails on someone else's server, which messages Comey's letter does not say he has even read, and which the letter also says may or may not be significant to the previous email investigation?

    It is someone by the name of Donald Trump.

    To anyone who actually reads Comey's letter, it is pretty tame, super cautious, and says virtually nothing at all about whether there really is any new evidence that Clinton might have done anything wrong.

    Nevertheless, Trump immediately shouted that this letter was proof that what Hillary allegedly did with her emails was "worse than Watergate."

    This is not only utterly false to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of Watergate, but is a cynical attempt to take advantage of the fact that voters who are not yet in their early 40's were not even alive during Watergate and may think of it as just a bad word of some sort.

    Trump's charge is a totally despicable lie, right up there with the type of Big Lie that Adolf Hitler and many other fascist demagogues have made famous.

    (Trump is not anti-semitic, has never supported genocide and has - finally - disavowed the support of the KKK and the neo-Nazi or white supremacists groups who are so attracted to his attacks on Mexican, Muslim and other non-white immigrants. I am not comparing Trump to Hitler who will forever be in a class of evil by himself, in all respects - only in some - such as racism, contempt for democracy and the above mentioned Big Lie strategy).

    Roger Algase
    Atorney at Law
    Updated 10-29-2016 at 09:28 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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