In the wake of the truly terrible acts of terrorism wrought upon the communities of Paris and San Bernadino, we the people of a free, open, and democratic world, find ourselves facing certain dangerous paradigms –
First, is the realization that smaller and smaller cells of the demented, hell bent on visiting death and carnage on innocent persons continue operating more or less independent of larger terrorist networks and with greater frequency. Thus,they have become exponentially more lethal; their twisted machinations become more and more difficult to track or predict. This is a problem.
However, we are also left with another dangerous paradigm – the rise of racial and political reactionaries here in the U.S. who now propagate xenophobia, isolationism and other byproducts of fear. This is not new, per se. Such “blowback” is perhaps to be expected as a proximate result of shocking geopolitical events (enter the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII here or even the ostracism of German Americans during the First World War). On the campaign stump, a number of aspiring future leaders of the free world, best situated to redress the popular neuroses of mob mentality, have actually doubled-down on the hateful rhetoric. Beyond espousing support for the building of some Great Wall of Mexico, or the wholesale deportation of women and children who have come to the United States to escape persecution, a number of presidential nominees have officially poured fuel on fire, taking an even darker turn in recent weeks in response to the terrorist attacks.
Specifically, a number of governors, post-attacks, have vowed to reject the federal government’s resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. Never mind the fact that the matter of refugees (and immigration law and policy in general) is defined by the federal government, governors and other members of Congress have championed a series of discriminatory measures (including proposed legislation) aiming to bar refugee resettlement solely on the basis of nationality and/or religious identification (does that sound un-American to anyone else?).
Fact-checking the putative “reasoning” behind much of this recent anti-refugee rancor reveals numerous flaws, inconsistencies and outright untruths. The point of this blog entry is a simple riposte, setting the record straight as it regards Syrian refugees. What simple research of the solid numbers show is that Syrian refugees cannot, credibly, be classified as a class of people who are generally dangerous so as to pose risk to the national security of the United States if permitted to resettle here. What this blog entry is NOT interested in supporting are other polar extremes – the notion that resettlement or any other form of immigration should take a front seat to our government’s obligation to secure its citizenry, the notion that the threat of global terrorism is somehow not real, or the notion that persons arriving at our shores should not first be scrutinized and vetted in accordance with the U.S. government’s national security prerogatives.
FACT 1: They Syrian Refugee crisis can credibly be described as the worst humanitarian crisis since the Second World War.
FACT 2: Syrian refugees have NOT been resettling in the United States by the droves. Rather, to date, the United States has resettled only approximately 2,000 Syrians. Of course, this number is immensely smaller than the numbers resettled (or to be resettled) by any major Western country (e.g. Germany: approximately 99,000; Italy: approximately 1000,000; France: has pledged to take 24,000; Britain has pledge to take 20,000).
FACT 3: The U.S. vetting process is far more rigorous than any other country which has taken or has pledged to take significant numbers of refugees. Before approving any refugee for resettlement, the U.S. conducts a collaborative, multi-agency review including involvement by, among others, the U.S. State Department, the F.B.I.’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security. The vetting process is so intensive that each review takes somewhere in the order of 18 to 24 months to complete before approval. Only 50% of the vetted refugees are accepted for resettlement in the U.S.
FACT 4: Syrian refugees are not seeking a “free ride”. Much of the distortion spewed recently by less than responsible politicians has to do with portraying refugees as “free riders”, more interested in obtaining the material benefits of U.S. residency or citizenry than escaping warfare or persecution. However, there is substantial proof that Syrians are not particularly excited about leaving Syria and only seek to do so as a legitimate last resort to preserve their lives and that of their families. Nor is there much substance behind the allegation that the United States’ accepting refugees will result in an excessive strain on the U.S. taxpayer base. A study released by the Center for Immigration Studies indicates i) refugee or asylee use of welfare and other public benefits are generally no higher than among other immigrant classes and ii) refugees or asylees make up only about 13% of the total number of immigrants admitted into the U.S. Further, the same study shows that among immigrants, there is a direct correlation between extended use of welfare and low education, a truism that can of course be applied to the U.S. population at large.
These are just a few of the facts to be considered amidst the many misguided rumors now circulating about Syrian refugees. As stated, the writer in no way endorses downplaying either the importance of reasonably maintaining U.S. security or the threat of terrorism, global or domestic. It is hoped, however, that the reader will gain a fuller, perhaps more nuanced appreciation of the Syrian refugee crisis and also remember that among the many values which make the U.S. a great nation is an ornery refusal to succumb to the baser instincts of fear and intolerance.
3 thoughts on “The Syrian Refugee Crisis – Actual Facts”
great blog post. here is my take.
just try not to think about it.
They are going to vet people but guess what, if the DIA/CIA/FBI working with the immigration people becuse a suspicious person(s) came up is likely going to be letting suspected terrorists into the country if they are suspected to be a part of a specific cell they are after. These “ops” must remain secret and hopefully are being run by competant agents (read: leave atf out of it). Anyhoo, by letting these guys in and seeing who they interact with we can determine the machinations that are attempted to implant terror cells.
So thats why i say just dont think abot it because the only option to prevent this is to stop the immigrations. i wonder if the various governors came to this assumption/realization and want to bar the immigrants because they know the feds may botch an operation endangering citizens in their state.
i am personally of the opinion that the best way to stop terrorists is to eliminate free fire zones and make available special training to facilitate cooperation between permit holding armed citizens, and efiicacy of the those who choose to be armed. Special attention is required to put armed citizens in antigun strongholds like a planned parenthood. maybe these entities should include armed second amendment believers in their civil rights concious hiring quotas. I believe that those who wish to be armed and defend their right to be safe in public are no different than gays who want to be married or individuals wanting to live in a gender role opposite their sex. both wish to excercise their freedom despite large portions of the public condemning their thinking and behavior as deviant to their values.
i really enjoy your blog!
First, if I seem crazy, please just accept that I am a combat veteran so have a non-standard opinion on life, death, and liberty………
This applies not only to this issue; but all issues where people want/practice undermining the constitution in the name of safety.
Meaningless death is the cost of liberty. It is a necessary cost that our founding fathers, I believe, were aware of and chose it as the more righteous option.
We will all die. Personally, I hope to use mine for some cause. Nevertheless, there is no escaping it. No escaping it for yourself nor for your children. We can pretend to live with safety or we can live with liberty. The only way to protect ourselves is to continue to enable ourselves to defend ourselves. Meaningless death cannot be legislated away.
Most immigrants come here because they believe in the American dream; many to a greater extent than the average American born here. Some of them come here with mal-intent. Others come with good intent and change later due to being victims of racism (this is both their personal weakness and our weakness as a society). But these ones come here, most of them, to save their own heads, or their children’s heads (more related to Mexico).
I find that those who have never almost lost their head have trouble relating to the urgency of the matter.
But, our constitution includes an ethic of innocent until proven guilty. We shouldn’t convict people for thinking to commit a crime. We should be (all) prepared to stop them in the act. We are all due free choice in our decisions. We all have the right to make mistakes. But in the past we had the discretion to deal with situations also.
There was a (unclear if IS or not) attack last month that 50 something gays got killed at a nightclub. I have not heard a single story though of anyone in the club returning fire. This dumbass exercised his right to make a mistake; but hundreds of others were denied their right to put an end to that madness (as nightclubs don’t allow firearms).
(And unfortunately modern police tactics are also governed by fear; in this case creating a failure to maneuver. If you put on a uniform, you should first be willing to accept that you might not return home; because you did what was right. I know getting shot at is scary as hell. But, you have to push though it).
The difference between then and now. Our founding fathers didn’t live in a time ruled by cowardness. They knew that freedom wasn’t free, and they accepted the possible cost.