Special Treatments of Cubans Ended?

cuba-street-rotator-720x480The Obama administration announced the end of the ‘wet-foot-dry-foot’ policy for Cubans on January 12. This executive action repealed the executive action of President Clinton that provided refugee treatment for any Cuban making it onto U.S. soil – including at a legal port of entry. This was a much needed change in policy for a variety of reasons, but it was too late in coming, and it did not go far enough to remove special immigration treatment of Cubans.

The announcement was too late because it allowed additional tens of thousands of Cubans to take advantage of the refugee treatment after the administration announced restoration of diplomatic relations with the island in July 2015. And it did not go far enough because it left in place another questionable executive action of President Clinton that increased the flow of Cuban migrants. That action, adopted as a concession to Fidel Castro’s regime, was to try to lessen the incentive for illegal immigration by Cubans to the United States by establishing a special quota of 20,000 immigrant visas for Cubans to immigrate legally. This action was outside the immigration law and applies to nationals of no other country. Its legality is questionable.

Just as there was no legitimate reason for the now-ended policy accepting illegally arriving Cubans as refugees, there is also no legitimate reason for maintaining the special quota system of immigrant visas for Cubans.

A further change that needs to be adopted is for Congress to repeal the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) enacted in 1966 to provide automatic legal residence as refugees for Cubans who had arrived illegally a year earlier. If Cubans now arriving illegally are being deported like other illegal aliens, the CAA will lose much of its meaning. But, because of deportation backlogs and the efforts of immigration lawyers to drag out deportation proceedings, the CCA still represents a flaw in treating Cubans like other nationals and should be withdrawn.

Legislation to Give States Reins on Refugee Resettlement in 2017

State & Local Legislation from FAIRLawmakers around the country are introducing legislation to give states more control over refugee resettlement in the United States.  Opposition to mass refugee resettlement soared this year following recent terrorist attacks globally by extremists posing as Syrian refugees. The most notable attack occurred in Paris, France, in November 2015, resulting in 130 fatalities.  Such legislation underscores the need for reform on the federal level of its Refugee Resettlement program and need for greater consultation and cooperation with state and local officials in the placement process.

Legislators from two states joined in the efforts to facilitate state and local leaders’ participation in refugee resettlement, as already required by federal law. Missouri Representative Jeff Pogue (R-143) introduced a measure to the General Assembly last month to help give Missourians a say in refugee resettlement in their state. Under House Bill 203, the Missouri General Assembly must approve refugees before they can be relocated into the state. Representative Pogue has yet to provide additional information regarding how this process will be implemented.

Georgia Senator Josh McKoon (R-29) also announced his plans earlier this month to introduce a measure to allow the state to withdraw participation from the federal Refugee Resettlement Program. If passed, Georgia could become the fifteenth state in the country to refuse participation.  Currently, fourteen states refuse participation in the Refugee Resettlement program. States that withdraw from the program, often referred to as “Wilson-Fish” states, do not participate in the placement process or administer aid to refugees, unless specifically required by state or federal law. Often, the federal government gets around states that refuse to participate with the program by contracting with third party organizations to facilitate placement of refugees into those states. Withdrawal from the Refugee Resettlement program, however, will ensure state taxpayer resources are not spent in the resettlement process.

Additionally, federal legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.) last year sought to require state governments’ approval over the resettlement of refugees.  H.R. 6119, also known as the Allow State Sovereignty Upon Refugee Entry (ASSURE) Act, would have required the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), to submit a detailed plan to each state where refugees are to be resettled.  This plan would require a list costs expected by the state for housing, education, health care, and any other subsidies. In addition, vaccination records, health records, criminal history, and possible terrorist ties of refugees would have to be disclosed in the report. After submittal of the plan to the state government, it must be ratified by the state legislature and signed by the governor in order for refugee resettlement to proceed. A similar version of this bill is expected to be reintroduced this year if the upcoming Trump administration fails to reform the federal program.

Echoes of Rome’s Fall in the EU Migrant Crisis

rome-aqueduct-ruins-rotator-720x480George Santayana famously said that those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it.  However, it might be more correct to say that those who cannot recall relevant history will see the errors of the past repeated.  And the handling of the European Union (EU) migrant crisis is a perfect example of why the qualifier is necessary.

Much of the bad policy driving the EU migrant crisis is motivated by a desire to avoid a recurrence of the human rights violations committed during World War II. The popular narrative goes something like this: Only blind, slavish devotion to multi-culturalism can prevent the type of pernicious nationalism that led to the formation of the Nazi party and its fascist affiliates throughout Europe.

So, the nations of the EU admit the unceasing stream of refugees from the Middle East in order to demonstrate that they have transcended their past. What’s worse, they don’t require these new arrivals to learn European customs or conform to European standards of behavior. Increasingly, they’re also hauling anyone who speaks out about the problem into court and charging them with “hate crimes.”

But Europe is focusing on the wrong chapter of its history. The strategic errors of the Roman Empire provide lessons much more pertinent to the handling of the current migrant crisis than anything that can be gleaned from the moral failings of 20th Century dictatorships. Accepting refugees in reasonable numbers that can be effectively assimilated won’t lead to fascism.  However, blindly accepting massive numbers of refugees to avoid political confrontation or military action killed Europe once before.

The original Euro super state, the Roman Empire, fell because it mismanaged a refugee crisis.  In the late 300’s the Huns drove the Goths out of their ancestral homelands. The Goths turned to Rome for refuge. Preferring to avoid any type of conflict, Rome’s political leaders negotiated a deal. They agreed to grant the Goths citizenship in return for military service and labor on Roman farmlands.

The Goths poured into the Empire by the hundreds of thousands, overwhelming local authorities. Considering their culture superior to that of the Romans, the Goths refused to assimilate. In 378 A.D. they rose up and defeated the Roman army at the battle of Adrianople. The Eastern Empire fell.  Only a century later, the remainder of the Roman Empire had been entirely overrun by Goths, Gauls, and related tribes. And Romans found themselves with no choice but to adapt to the now dominant foreign cultures.

There are obvious parallels between the situation faced by Rome during its last century and that currently faced by the European Union. It remains to be seen whether Europe’s preoccupation with its recent past will cause it to repeat the strategic errors of its distant past.


Somalia: Vetting is Not a Game

somalia-pirate-rotator-720x480The Conservative Review recently reported that the United States has admitted even more refugees from Somalia than it has from Syria: 3,014 for FY17 and 8,000-10,000 per year for the last two decades. According to Lifezette.com, Somali refugee resettlement is up 250 percent under the Obama administration, totaling almost 100,000 Somali refugees since 9/11.

The unrestrained admission of Somali refugees is part of a disturbing trend in U.S. immigration policy: prioritizing the resettlement of refugees ahead of the security interests of the American public. As FAIR has previously noted, successful vetting of any aliens is dependent upon access to information that is reliable and verifiable. Problems arise when attempting to vet people from countries that are unwilling to share information or have few reliable public records. Somalia is one of those countries.

A troubled country located on the horn of Africa, Somalia has long suffered from corrupt government, civil war and militant extremism. Due to the lack of any functioning government, Somalia has become a safe haven for terrorists. The principal extremist threat in Somalia comes from the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabab, although other Islamist terror groups are known to operate freely within the country .

In 2009, the Norwegian body that monitors refugee crises reported that, “Although a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has been established in Somalia, no agencies have been mandated to issue personal documents. Furthermore, there are no registries containing information which can establish the identity of individual citizens.” Over the last seven years, the situation has not improved. In September of 2016, The Economist magazine referred to Somalia as the most-failed state on Earth.

In short, there is no reliable method for determining whether Somalis are who they claim to be; thus, there may be no way to determine what derogatory information may exist with regard to a particular applicant. This may be why the government has made the wrong call in so many cases. In fact, vetting of Somali refugees has been so poor that the government has been accused of “breeding terrorists” in the Midwest, where the majority of these individuals have been resettled.

When will the U.S. government put the security needs of the American public first? Hopefully the new administration will immediately stop admitting people it can’t adequately vet. If it doesn’t, then the United States may find itself facing the same type of public safety crises that Germany, Belgium, and France are now experiencing.

Obama Is Letting Aliens With Bogus Asylum Claims Into The United States

Obama_signing_112414The Washington Times recently published an informative piece on political asylum by immigration reporter Stephen Dinan. It casts light on a number of important flaws in America’s asylum policies. Particularly the lax attitude the Obama administration has had toward security and public safety concerns connected with asylum seekers.

Political asylum allows foreigners in the U.S. or at its borders to seek refuge if they have a credible fear of persecution on account of race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Individuals who prove to an immigration officer that they have a reasonable belief they will be persecuted in their country of origin are permitted to remain in the U.S., pending an asylum hearing. Those who cannot demonstrate a credible fear are returned home.

For decades, the political asylum process has been the target of fraud. Merely having a pending asylum application was an easy way to be paroled into the United States and get work authorization. Due to backlogs at Immigration and Naturalization Service Offices and the Immigration Court parole pending an asylum application meant years of quasi-lawful presence and profitable employment. And large numbers of those paroled to request asylum absconded, failing to ever appear for asylum hearings.

In 1996, Congress attempted to correct these problems by passing legislation requiring any asylum application to be filed within one year after entry into the United States and requiring the detention of anyone requesting asylum without proper travel and identity documents. The measure was signed into law by President Clinton. In 2007, the Bush administration tightened its parole policies in deference to post September 11, 2001 national security concerns.

In 2009, the Obama administration reversed this policy and began paroling virtually all asylum seekers into the U.S., where they frequently disappear, becoming illegal aliens.

A larger percentage of the world’s population is fleeing war and strife than at any other time in history. And the number of individuals requesting asylum when arrested by the border patrol has risen from 1 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2016.

This means that, without proper administration, the very laws we have enacted to protect freedom in the wider world may be turned against us. Rather than permitting our Asylum program to become the tool of alien smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists, the incoming Trump administration should conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. asylum laws and policies, attempting to minimize the risks associated with asylum, while maintaining their spirit.