Monday, January 30, 2017

The Refugee Problem

President Trump upset a lot of people last week by placing a moratorium on admitting refugees into the country. Many argue that a compassionate nation would bring in people who are fleeing tyranny elsewhere in the world and would not discriminate on the basis of religion. On the other hand, others, like economist James Simpson, argue that admitting refugees is dangerous, poorly monitored, prohibitively expensive, and largely unnecessary. He makes his case in an article at The Federalist where, among other things, he writes this:
Since 9/11 there have been 580 convictions for terrorism in the United States. At least 40 of these were refugees.

Since March 2014 there have been 111 ISIS-related arrests and 60 convictions. There have been nine indictments and six convictions of ISIS supporters in the metropolitan DC area alone. ISIS openly encourages “lone jihadi” attacks, and the State Department now admits ISIS is trying to penetrate the U.S. refugee flow.

Some 250 U.S. Muslims from 19 states have either joined or attempted to join ISIS overseas. Many have since returned with little or no oversight.

Virtually all 580 convictions since 9/11 were Muslim immigrants or American Muslim converts, and the Somali community consistently supplies such malefactors. Yet the Department of Homeland Security has provided tours of airport facilities to groups of Somalis, including explanations of airport inner workings, security protocols, and databases. DHS redacted some of this information as too sensitive to share with the public.
The terrorist threat posed by increasing the population of potential ISIS sympathizers in the U.S. is not the only problem. Another problem is the absurdity of the refugee designation. For instance:
Afghani refugee Ahmad Rahami, the terrorist bomber of New York and New Jersey, originally entered the United States through the asylum program, but then traveled back to Afghanistan, where he apparently became radicalized. How can someone who is supposedly fleeing his home country for his life go back for a visit?

Virtually all U.S. Somalis originally arrived as refugees or asylum seekers or are their children. Many now take months-long trips back to Somalia, contradicting their purported reason for seeking asylum: fleeing Somalia for their lives. Minneapolis actually grants rent relief because Somalis complained about the cost of overdue rent upon their return.
The system, moreover, is, like so many bureaucratic systems, permeated with fraud:
The entire refugee resettlement program has systematic fraud, creating both national security risks and undue fiscal burdens. Refugee advocates claim the vetting process for Syrians is airtight, but U.S. security officials say exactly the opposite. An internal Immigrations, Customs, and Enforcement memo states, “[The] refugee program is particularly vulnerable to fraud due to loose evidentiary requirements where at times the testimony of an applicant alone is sufficient for approval.” The memo goes on to say that “the immigration system is a constant target for exploitation” by terrorists. An Immigration and Naturalization Services assistant commissioner said 95 percent of refugee and asylee applications are fraudulent.

The Obama administration has knowingly and routinely allowed illegal aliens falsely claiming asylum to remain in the United States. A September 2016 DHS Inspector General report found that 1,982 aliens from countries known for immigration fraud or terror-links who were scheduled for deportation were instead granted citizenship using false identities because fingerprint records were missing.

Yet many of the tens of thousands of unvettable Syrians who are accepted don’t meet the refugee definition.

Syrian Christians are facing genocide, and certainly do meet the definition, but represent less than 1 percent of those Syrians resettled so far. Syrian Muslims are more than 98 percent of the total. In the interest of diplomacy we are also resettling populations other countries refuse to take. Most recently, the Obama administration offered to accept 2,465 asylum seekers now being detained by Australia which that country refuses to accept because of their possible ties to terrorism. In response to congressional inquiries, the administration has declared information about this agreement classified.
At least some of the refugees we're accepting have no business coming here as refugees. Simpson doesn't mention this, but Iraqis fleeing ISIS in Iraq are legitimate refugees but most of Iraq is fairly secure. Why shouldn't these Iraqis be resettled in their home country?

Simpson goes on to discuss the economic burden refugee resettlement places on communities. Refugees use welfare at rates far higher than other Americans and since 2009 have cost the taxpayers a "staggering $48 billion." He adds that,
It costs 12 times as much to resettle refugees as to assist them in place. Almost all refugees would prefer to return home than be resettled to a third country. President-Elect Trump’s idea to create “safe zones” in or near countries of conflict is a much more compassionate and cost-effective method of dealing with the refugee crisis. Trump’s State Department should [also] encourage the Gulf States to participate in resettlement, since they currently offer little help.
Read the whole piece. The economic concerns Simpson raises are an eye-opener.

There's no question that we should be helping those fleeing from the horrors of Islamic tyranny, that's not in question. What is in question is the best, most effective, most prudent way to do this. It certainly appears that what we have been doing for the past eight years is not it.