Thursday, November 19, 2015

Compassion vs. Self-Preservation

Syrian refugees are being brought into the United States. A first group of arrivals were placed in Louisiana earlier this week. The president says we should simply trust him. But since there is almost nothing in which he has earned our trust, that will not do.

Add to the decision the knowledge that five Syrians jihadists were just apprehended in Honduras, with false Greek passports,, on their way to America. Plus three were three more apprehended in St. Maarten, on their way to the US. Plus there were eight more apprehended (turned themselves in?) in Laredo, TX, on their way into the US. All just this week. We can enumerate those apprehended, but we don’t know how many weren’t caught.
5 Syrian men escorted by Honduran police Nov. 18
photo from Reuters

I listened to a discussion about the Syrian refugee question on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Wednesday evening. His guest was Professor John Eastman, Fowler School of Law, Chapman University, Dean Emeritus. Hewitt refers to him as one of The Smart Guys, but the other one wasn’t available that day. The short conversation covers several of the important questions about the refugees. So I’ll follow up on a couple of points after the transcript (starts 25 minutes in during hour 2):

HH: John, earlier today five Syrians were arrested in Honduras carrying Syrian passports. They were on their way to the United States. Earlier today, ISIS released a video of New York that had been made since the French attacks, featuring new video of al-Alam showing pictures of New York—maybe they were file photos, maybe they’re not—threatening explosions. I think maybe the country’s position is going to change a little bit on metadata collection. What do you think?
JE: Well, I think so. And also some very serious federalism questions on whether the states just have to accept whatever the federal government imposes on them in the way of immigration. I think we’ve got a real eye-opening window about to open up here.
HH: Now, let’s talk about what Speaker Ryan said today. “We have no religious test; we have a security test.” They are drafting a law that will go to the Senate, and they expect to pass it before they leave on Thanksgiving vacation, because they want this vetting that the president promised via a tweet, but no one believes is going on. Do you believe it’s going on?
JE: Well, I don’t believe it’s going on; I don’t believe they’re capable of it going on. Let’s talk about the Syrian refugees for a moment. The federal law allowing the president to vet and designate who can receive refugee status requires that we engage in an investigation, a vetting, to make sure we’re not bringing in terrorists and also people with communicable diseases and other threats to our security and to our health and safety in this country.
There is no ability for the president or any of his minions in the executive branch to conduct that kind of vetting process with respect to a regime that is in the middle of a perpetual state of war. And we do not have the capability to check even if these are convicted felons from their own country. You can’t exactly pick up the phone and ask al-Assad, “Hey, is this a good guy or a bad guy that we’re about to admit into the United States?”
And that means the statutory requirements cannot be met. And therefore by law the president can’t be designating these folks as refugees.
HH: That’s very interesting. I hadn’t heard that. And by the way, if they caught five in Honduras, how many do you think they didn’t catch?
JE: Well, Honduras… I don’t know what you figure. One out of a hundred we catch? One out of a thousand? Who knows?
Let me go back to the question on religion, though, because we do have a religious test, and Speaker Ryan’s not quite right about this. It’s not the kind of, we’re only going to allow certain religions and not other religions—that’s not what the test is. But the requirement for asylum and the requirement for refugee status is not just that you be fleeing a war torn country; everybody, of course, would like to flee that. The requirement, the statutory requirement that is binding on the president is that you have to be seeking asylum or refugee status because of persecution or a well-grounded fear of persecution based on your religion or ethnic heritage or what have you. And if you don’t meet that criteria, then you are not eligible for asylum or refugee status under the law.
HH: So asylum actually comes to the Yazidis and the Assyrian Christians pretty easily, since the alternative is staying there and losing their heads.
JE: That’s right. And it’s because of their religion that they would lose their heads if they stay there. Not true for a lot of people just fleeing because they don’t want to be in the war area. And so our law is very clear. And the Supreme Court has routinely recognized that the plenary power to describe, to define that stuff, that legal requirement, is vested in Congress, and the president cannot ignore those statutory requirements….
HH: John, in light of the ISIS video threatening New York, released today, in light of the five Syrians arrested in Honduras carrying false Greek passports, listen to what the president said yesterday in the Philippines:
(audio of Obama): These are the same folks oftentimes who suggest that they’re so tough that, uh, just talking to Putin or staring down ISIL or using some additional rhetoric somehow is gonna solve the problems out there. But apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming in to the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. Now first they were more afraid about the press bein’ too tough on ‘em during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me. They’ve been playing on fear in order to score political points, or to advance, uh, their campaigns. Uh, and it’s irresponsible. And it’s contrary to who we are. And it needs to stop, because the world is watching.
HH: So, John Eastman, the president is petulant, childish, and dictatorial, telling people it needs to stop. I mean… I’ll just give you the last minute and a half to respond to that.
JE: It’s astounding to me. We’ve got evidence across the world of people coming in, masquerading as refugees in order to commit acts of terror against our civilian population. The president’s first job is not to be compassionate to anybody he feels he would like to be; his first job is to protect the security of the American people, particularly on our homeland. And if folks are masquerading as refugees, then we darn well better start questioning refugees to make sure we’re not letting potential jihadist terrorists into this country. And in fact, the federal statutes require that he engage in that.
And so, this is not about wanting to be discompassionate to widows and orphans. I mean, that’s just demagoguery by the president of the United States. And we ought to quit tolerating this guy’s demagoguery. The federal statute requires them to vet potential refugees, to make sure that we are not letting in people who pose a threat to the United States—a health threat, a physical threat, a jihadist threat. And we know particularly from the Paris attacks that these folks can pose a jihadist threat. And we have no ability currently in place to vet who these people are. And the kind of wholesale importation of 10,000 from Syria, and 100,000 refugees total without any vetting process in place is unbelievably foolish. And it’s kind of a disregard of the most fundamental duties of the president of the United States.
Earlier in the program, Hewitt had a caller ask the question: If they’re supposedly vetting already, then how many are being turned away, and where are they ending up? I think the assumption behind that question is that we can pretty well disregard the president’s claim that they are carefully vetting; they’re not.

Syrian refugees arriving in Louisiana, 70% males of military age,
not widows and 3-year-olds as the president claims,
photo from here

This shouldn’t be a partisan question. Anyone who loves America and has enough awareness to see what just happened in Paris ought to be wary about allowing Muslim refugees fleeing ISIS into the US. Add to that the law that must be followed (by a law-abiding president) concerning granting refugee status.

There are ways to vet Syrian Christians. And it is evident they are being persecuted because of their religion, and their lives are in danger. So then the next hurdle is whether there is a health risk, which probably could be managed with a relatively short quarantine prior to bringing them here. There's still the question of using taxpayer dollars to relocate and support these individuals.

And there is still the question of whether transporting them halfway around the world is the only, or even the best, option. It might be for some of them. For most Syrians, bringing them here acts on an assumption that they will never be able to live in their homeland again, that ISIS has permanently won that land. That's pretty defeatist.

Other options include finding safe zones for them in nearby Middle Eastern countries, where they fit culturally and religiously. That acknowledges the possibility that the enemy radicals can be vanquished, and that the refugees have hope they can eventually move back home.

The president's accusation that anyone who disagrees with his wholesale importation of unvetted Syrians means we are hypocritically un-Christian is completely wrong.

What is more likely behavior for truly charitable people: find (or found) organizations[i] to assure people fleeing their war torn home country have shelter, food, clothing, and healthcare? Or expect their government to confiscate their tax money at a rate of about $16,000 (followed by  per refugee to uproot them and transport them to our country, with all its cultural differences?

Charitable people wouldn’t necessarily bring them here. Maybe a few, select persons who qualify for refugee status and have a strong desire to become Americans rather than return to their native home.
So why does the president—against the advice of his military and security leaders—insist on spending big money and foisting large numbers of foreigners on us, foreigners that would much rather be among majority Muslims living in the Middle East than in overwhelmingly Christian America? And why do people in his party almost exclusively ignore our safety and suddenly insist on “charity” to these people—while they have been ignoring the elimination of Christians in the area up until now? And why are they so “charitable” that they insist we give up our safety for it?

I assume it is the same answer as always: this president has a political agenda that has to do with transforming America away from freedom, prosperity, and civilization. Blindness must explain why he has followers.

Today the House voted on a bill to call for a pause in the importation of Syrian refugees. The vote was 289-137, which included around 50 Democrats who are awake enough to see the danger. There’s still the challenge of getting through the Senate and overcoming a veto.

I have an idealistic, unrealistic suggestion, to deal with the gap between what the president says is a thorough vetting process and what we assume is a mostly porous process. I suggest that the president stake his life on his vetting process. 

We want to be assured that no radical Islamists will come in among any Syrian or Iraqi refugees. The president could be held responsible if any radical Islamists make their way in. If it turns out that if even a single radical jihadist is found in our country because of being disguised as a refugee, the Obama, along with possibly some higher up minions, spends the rest of his life in prison. If it happens that a radical jihadist who got here by way of being a refugee participates in a terrorist attack in our country—regardless of size of the attack or extent of the damage—the president is subject to immediate capital punishment.

That would make more sense than having the president risk our lives, safety, and security, and saying, “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Let the risk and responsibility actually be his.

Or he could simply go along with Congress and all sensible people and stop inviting them.

[i] Here are two such organizations: LDS Charities, video of ongoing help here; The Nazarene Fund, a project of Mercury One (Glenn Beck’s organization). If I understand correctly, both of these organizations put 100% of your donations toward relief; they handle overhead with completely separated funding sources.

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