America is a country of immigrants. One of the most basic of American customs and beliefs is to welcome refugees. Perhaps, the most recognizable and enduring symbol of this is the Statue of Liberty, which rests in NY harbor. Note the inscription on the statue:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
For generations of refugees arriving from Europe the Statue was the first thing they saw and was symbolic of freedom and a fresh start. Furthermore, most of us are descendants of refugees.
Currently, there is great controversy over whether or not the US should accept refugees from Syria. According to the latest Rasmussen poll, 60% of Americans oppose accepting these refugees. Most of them, Republican and Democrat alike, are concerned that terrorists may be imbedded among some of them.
This is not far-fetched as that is precisely what has happened in Europe. Much, if not most, of the violence, lawlessness and terrorism that has been occurring in France, Germany, the UK and other countries can be traced either to current Muslim emigrants or the descendants of those who have emigrated over the last 70 years. For various reasons, as delineated below, they were allowed to emigrate without sufficient vetting. We don’t have to guess or hypothesize the result of wholesale unrestricted emigration, we have empirical evidence in Europe. It’s all there for us to see if we just pay attention with an open, objective mind.
At the very least, polls demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of Americans want to limit access to those who have survived a rigorous vetting process. They are suspicious of the reliability of the current process (and with good reason, as we will see below). To that point, the House has passed a bill requiring a more rigorous vetting process. In addition, thirty-one governors have voiced strenuous opposition to any refugees being settled in their respective states.
Others feel that the vetting process is adequate, and we should grant access. After all, they say, “it is who we are.” Many Administration spokespersons have implied that anyone who opposes admitting refugees is hard-hearted, anti-poor or anti-Muslim.
This issue has become very contentious and threatens to become a crucial election issue. Let’s all take a deep breath and examine some background and facts.
Historically, Muslims and non-Muslims have generally not interacted well. Conflicts can be traced to the 8th Century when the Umayyads, an Islamic group that claimed to be descendants of a relative of Muhammad, conquered most of what is now Spain and Portugal. Eventually, their advance onto Europe was halted by the Franks at the Battle of Tours (France) in 732. Over the centuries, there have been many conflicts, including, most notably, the “Crusades.” In addition, don’t forget the Barbary Pirates. As I described in a recent blog, they terrorized shipping in the Mediterranean from the 16th through the 19th centuries, murdering and enslaving European and American merchant sailors in the name of Allah.
Additionally, at different times, parts of Europe were conquered by the Moors and the Ottomans, among others. The Ottomans were finally expelled for good following WWI. Many believe that radical Muslims are still “fighting the Crusades” to this day, but that is an issue for another blog on another day.
The foregoing is the preamble of the current issue of the Muslim refugees. Some facts:
- It is estimated that 44 million Muslims are now living in Europe (6% of the total population). In 2015 a Pew Research study projected that number would increase to 8% by 2030 and 10% by 2050. For the most part, they are descendants of people who have emigrated to Europe over the last 70 years. For example:
a. After WWII Western European countries began accepting war refugees from Muslim countries.
b. France accepted refugees from North Africa during and after the Algerian War of Independence.
c. Over the years, Germany, the UK and other countries have encouraged emigration and accepted refugees based on the need for cheap labor and, perhaps, guilt over the Holocaust and centuries of colonialism as well.
d. Muslims have generally resisted assimilation. They consider their own religious, social, legal and cultural beliefs to be superior to those of the country in which they reside.
e. Many of them are protesting the economic conditions in their country using violent means rather than peaceful ones. Just within the last year we have seen violence in France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK. These violent acts have had religious and cultural overtones. The recent violence in Germany was particularly egregious as it involved sexual assault, including rape, perpetrated by an organized mob of hundreds of males of “Northern African or Middle Eastern” appearance. Naturally, most non-Muslim citizens are frightened , frustrated and outraged. Their governments have not only been unable to control the violence, but, in some cases, abetted by the media, they have downplayed it.
2. According to Pew, presently, 13 million Muslims reside in the EU countries. Among EU countries, Germany (4.8 million, 5.8% of the country’s total) and France (4.7 million, 7.5% of the total) have the largest Muslim population.
3. Demographically, Muslims are younger and have larger families, which accounts for the above growth estimates.
Now, back to the central issue: should we or should we not accept refugees from Syria?
In my opinion, the answer is quite clear. Before accepting any refugees we should insist that they go through a rigorous vetting process by reliable agencies. The current vetting process, with initial screening by the UN (under the aegis of the UNHCR) and follow-up by the State Department and DHS, is woefully inadequate and unreliable. For example:
1. There is a tendency to place too much trust on the applicant, particularly in view of the other factors listed below.
2. The civil war in Syria makes it extremely difficult to obtain and verify information.
3. Due to a paucity of assets on the ground and insights into Syria, itself, the FBI has expressed serious doubts as to the US’s ability to obtain and/or verify the information it needs for reliable vetting.
4. UNHCR is severely understaffed for the task. It has about 2,300 staff members that are tasked with reviewing over 4 million cases. Also, many of those 2,300 are support staff, such as drivers, translators and administrators. A proper vetting includes not only the interview, itself, but also obtaining, checking and recording documents, follow-up interviews, and a myriad of other tasks. There is no way the UN can do a proper vetting.
5. Even UNHCR has acknowledged the existence of fraud in some cases. This includes false identity claims, misrepresenting, exaggerating or inventing the nature or details of their refugee status claims, or even out and out bribery.
No one wants to appear to be hard-hearted, unsympathetic or anti-Muslim as some have been portrayed. Most people want to help legitimate refugees, and I’m sure that the overwhelming majority of them are fine and legitimate. But our first duty is to protect America and Americans. We have seen what failure to do this can do. This is not speculation; it is fact. Therefore, it is essential that we deny access to terrorists, criminals and others that cannot support a LEGITIMATE need to gain entry. As I have stated in a previous blog the most critical issue today is the protection and security of Americans. If we don’t have that, we don’t have anything. The safety and security of America and Americans must outweigh political correctness.
Someone once said: “The refugee has got to be checked because, unfortunately, among the refugees there are some spies, as has been found in other countries.” Who said that? Not Donald Trump. Not Bill O’Reilly. In fact, no current politician or journalist. In point of fact, those words were uttered by President Franklyn Delano Roosevelt in 1940. They were true then, and they are true today, except one could substitute the word “terrorists” for “spies.”