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.


Tolerated Stay, Open Borders and National Security

Simbol EUWhen the current incarnation of the European Union (EU) was formed, a number of member states agreed to eliminate their internal borders, creating a region called the Schengen Zone (named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed). Anyone admitted to any Schengen country is admitted to all of the nations within the zone. For example, travelers fly from New York to Paris and are admitted to France – they are then free to cross the Border from France to Belgium and Belgium to Germany without any further inspection by immigration officials.

Ironically, most of Europe is now wondering how Anis Amri was able to move so easily throughout Europe. Amri is the Tunisian national suspected of stealing a tractor-trailer and mowing down shoppers at Berlin’s Christmas Market. He left his native country fleeing an armed robbery warrant and entered the Schengen Zone through Italy by claiming to be a refugee.

Despite being inadmissible under EU immigration law, he was granted “tolerated stay” status. Theoretically temporary, this category is used for aliens who are inadmissible, but who can’t immediately be expelled, due to administrative or political (often political correctness) concerns. In some cases, “tolerated stay” recipients are given cash benefits and housing, at taxpayer expense.

The combination of “tolerated stay” status and open borders agreements allows known public safety and national security threats to move freely throughout Europe. Meanwhile, police and security officials must still operate under national laws. So while terrorists exploit the Schengen Zone to evade law enforcement, police are forced to negotiate bureaucratic obstacles and coordinate investigations across multiple jurisdictions.

The formation of the Schengen Zone was an expression of the member states’ belief they shared a common identity that made borders unnecessary. That borderless zone is now serving as a magnet for refugees and economic migrants from cultures that are drastically different from those in Europe. And they are arriving so rapidly and in such large numbers, Europe lacks the resources to effectively assimilate them.  It remains to be seen whether the Schengen Zone will collapse of its own weight. But recent history has clearly disproven the foolish notion that Europe doesn’t need borders.

The United States should learn from Europe’s experiences and phase out programs that reduce or remove immigration controls, like the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Visa Waiver Program. It should also eliminate the American equivalents of “tolerated stay” – immigration parole, deferred action, and temporary protected status. America has already had far too many Anis Amris of its own.

Nearly 300 Refugees in Minnesota Diagnosed with Active TB

Records from the Minnesota Department of Health show that 296 refugees have been diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) between 2010 and 2014. Of the 296 refugees, 71 refugees were diagnosed within just a year of their arrival to the United States.

The number of active TB cases among Minnesota’s refugee population is ten times higher than reported by any other state. Previously, Wisconsin topped the list by reporting 27 cases of active TB among refugees between in 2015. Minnesota taxpayers paid an estimated $5 million dollars in healthcare expenses to treat the 296 cases of active TB among refugees during this time period.

The total of refugees with active TB nationwide is likely to be much higher than reported. Currently, there are 468 known cases of refugees with active TB in the country, but 36 states have not submitted any data regarding the number of cases within their refugee populations. Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Health suggests that the state’s numbers are higher than others because, unlike many other states, Minnesota conducts additional health screening within 90-days of a refugee’s arrival.

Federal law prohibits refugee applicants with active infectious TB from entering the country. However, some refugees were able to enter the United States with the contagious disease by receiving a waiver by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their admission. DHS has not made public the number of TB and other disease-related waivers it has issued in recent years.


New Ideas and Delicious Food

Syrian immigrants in SerbiaJudicial Watch has released documents showing a conspiracy between the Mayor of Rutland, Vermont, and the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program to conceal plans to bring Syrian refugees to the town. Unfortunately, stealth resettlement has become the standard tactic whenever concerned citizens raise questions about the impact large numbers of foreign arrivals may have on their communities.

The authorities in Rutland, however, went a step beyond abandoning their constituents in favor of political correctness. The papers obtained by Judicial Watch also show an attempt to blunt public safety concerns by arguing that refugees inevitably bring “new ideas and delicious food.”  Apart from insulting the intelligence of Rutland’s citizens, this type of official condescension shows a woeful ignorance of the very real problems that often accompany resettling people in an utterly alien culture.

In addition to ethnic food and cultural activities, increasing numbers of immigrants have also contributed to the spread of many behaviors and practices contrary to American values. While the food can be delicious, the “new ideas” are often malicious.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a practice associated mainly with African and Middle Eastern countries that made its way here with immigrant groups. It constitutes a criminal act in all 50 states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a report estimating that 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. have undergone FGM or are now at risk of being subjected to it.

Forced marriage is a growing problem among immigrant groups in the United States. Estimates vary widely but it appears that thousands of immigrant women and girls are forced to marry every year. Syrian refugee communities appear to have a particularly high incidence of forced marriages involving child brides.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “honor killing” as “the traditional practice in some countries of killing a family member who is believed to have brought shame on the family.” Closely linked to forced marriage, honor killing is prevalent in tribal cultures where weddings are viewed as a means to gain social standing or cement family relationships. Honor killings are on the rise in the United States, particularly among ultra-orthodox Muslims.

Warmly welcoming foreigners and absorbing them into our communities is an established American tradition. Forced marriage, FGM and honor killings aren’t. Perhaps the elected officials and government bureaucrats in Vermont should spend less time worrying about new ideas and more time focusing on legitimate concerns raised by their constituents.

Flint’s Next Crisis?

Syrian immigrants in SerbiaThe city of Flint, Michigan, which garnered national attention this year for its lead-contaminated water, may once again find itself in crisis mode if refugee resettlement contractors in the state get their way.

According to Breitbart News, mid-Michigan refugee contractors are planning on resettling 100 Syrian and Iraqi refugees in FY 2017 in Flint without the knowledge of local officials. “At this point it appears city leaders have not been informed of the details regarding this matter,” a spokesperson for Mayor Karen Weaver and the city of Flint told Breitbart.

A review of refugee resettlement data from the Department of State reveals that over the course of the last 10 years, a mere eight refugees have been resettled to the Flint area; four in FY 2011 and four in FY 2013 to be exact. This hardly makes Flint an obvious choice for resettling 100 additional refugees seeking to call the U.S. home. To the contrary, it seems rather irresponsible to place refugees in a city that is already trying to recover from its own public health and financial emergencies.

By now everyone in America has heard of Flint’s water crisis, where residents in this largely low-income and working class community were poisoned by high levels of lead in their drinking water. Though federal officials reported earlier this summer that it was now safe to drink “properly filtered water,” some homes are still reportedly unable to have proper systems installed, requiring many residents to continue to rely on bottled water.

Moreover, the city of Flint has only recently come out of its financial emergency. From December 2011 to April 2015, Flint was so plagued with financial problems that they were placed under state receivership. Nearly four years and four emergency managers later, the city is on the road to being debt free for the first time in a decade. While efforts to put Flint back on track should be commended, they should also not be pushed during its recovery period by flooding the city with individuals who will heavily rely on government assistance.

Needless to say, it is reckless and negligent to both prospective refugees and current residents to so drastically increase the number of refugees going to the area when the city of Flint has hardly had an opportunity to get back on its feet. Instead of setting unsuspecting refugees up for potential failure by resettling them in an area with well-documented public health and financial problems, refugee contractors and their parent agencies should place time and effort helping preexisting communities recover.