In Part III, I will further, more closely examine the current situation of Syrian immigration, especially the vast political divide it has caused on both sides of the political spectrum--from Presidents Obama's stubborn refusal to accept any limits on his intention to allow tens of thousands into the United States over the next few years--10,000 in the next year alone--and the opposite extreme of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson to either allow no immigration, or, at least, very minor numbers--preferably Christians. Trump proposes a registry of sorts of all Muslims immigrants to the country.
On Thursday, November 19th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan introduced and got passed legislation, the American SAFE bill, to ban Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States until tougher screening measures are in place. Democrats--at least the most liberal of Obama supporters--criticized the legislation as giving in to xenophobia after the Paris attacks. However, it passed overwhelmingly, 289 to 137, with support from 47 Democrats.
"Today is not the day to share our territory," Congressman Jeb Hensarling, 5th District of Texas, told colleagues. This seems to be a growing sentiment not only in the halls of Congress, but also on the streets of Everytown, USA.
House Democrat Jerrold Nadler, 10th Congressional District of New York, liberal extraordinaire, expressed astonishment that lawmakers would "seek to block women, children, and seniors fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq from entering the country as refugees."
"We might as well take down the Statue of Liberty," the portly progressive proclaimed.
Others disparaged what they labeled a reflex response to the Paris attacks, which harms those fleeing Islamic extremism.
"Where is our mercy?" Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, 18th District of Texas, another of the Obama worshippers in Congress, implored. (Congresswoman Lee, of course, expects a return--political favors down the road somewhere, sometime--for her fierce allegiance to Obama.)
The bill is now in Senate hands where Harry Reid is mustering Democrat opposition. At a press conference, when asked about the House bill, Reid curtly responded, "Don't worry, it won't get passed. Next question?"
Obama has said he will veto any such bill if it came across his desk. Why? Because, in his opinion, the legislation would not improve the country's security. Of course, anyone could counter by asking, "Well, what's your plan to do so?" His critics--including former Defense Secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta--say he really has no plan to speak of, just waffling back and forth and piecemeal acts of little consequence.)
In a White House statement clarifying Obama's message: "(The bill) would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis."
No mention of any anxieties for our safety, no recognition of the potential for terrorists to slip by our immigration screening and enter our country intent on bringing a "Paris" to New York City. Or Los Angeles. Or a city near you.
There are varying opinions by officials in almost every city, every state. Currently, more than thirty states' governors have issued bans on accepting Syrian refugees. Critics of that move claim they have no Constitutional standing to do so. The President (Federal government) determines who comes here, where they are settled, and when according to these detractors.
In New York City, target zero of the 9/11 attacks, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton seemed at odds with the mayor when he stated the immigrants could pose "a potential risk."
While contending he is on the same page as Mayor de Blasio, in a cover-my-derriere statement if ever one was tendered, said he was just facing reality. "I'm speaking to the reality, in terms of that, we're going to have to continue to allow immigrants from all over the world to come in," Bratton said.
"But in some areas of the world, it is difficult to validate their situation. We have pretty high standards of documentation to come into this country. And in some instances, it's going to be very difficult to validate, and if you can't validate, a decision's going to have to be made that we can't let them in."
Just prior, de Blasio, another kumbaya-type liberal, in somewhat stark contrast to Bratton's position, reminded New Yorkers of the merits of allowing Syrians and others into our country and the evil of religious prejudice.
"Some voices in this country are playing right into ISIS' hand, calling on us to close the borders and start discriminating against certain religions," he said.
No mention of potential peril, or of another "Paris" on 42nd Street, or of terrorists in our midst. While ISIS releases new videos portraying an intended attack on Times Square, the mayor of Gotham City reveals he has a clouded recollection of the events of 9/11.
Closer to home, in California, Governor Brown says he will not be one of those governors refusing Syrians, but stressed vetting as a requirement. On Monday, Brown advocated preserving "America's traditional role as a place of asylum... " Knowing "Moonbeam" Brown through the years, my guess is California will get thousands of Syrians, and whomever else Obama is passing out. Senator Diane Feinstein also says, "California will not be one of those states" that turns away refugees.
Politically, the liberals are far out on a losing limb in their stance supporting Obama and his "admit them all--especially Muslims--it's the American way" philosophy. Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post: "The political upside for Republican politicians pushing an immigration ban on Syrians and/or Muslims as a broader response to the threat posed by the Islamic State sure looks like a political winner."
On the "American Thinker" blog on November 18, Thomas Lifson writes: "Oops! Smarter lefties realize they have a losing hand on Syrian 'refugees.'"
"Fellow progs (progressives) are not reacting well to this dose of reality (but then, when has reality ever been a major factor in prog thinking?) Ryan Cooper, writing in "The Week," goes for outright denial of the threat of Islamic terrorism."
Islamist terrorism is a fairly minor threat. Yes, the Paris attacks (like 9/11, Madrid, Mumbai, and countless atrocities in Iraq and Syria) were a terrible tragedy. But we need to be realistic about how strong ISIS really is. It's true that decently organized young men with simple explosives and cheap automatic weapons can easily massacre hundreds of civilians and terrorize millions. But that is not even close to a "an organized attempt to destroy Western civilization," as Jeb Bush ludicrously claimed. Compared to Nazi Germany, or the Soviets with their hundreds of long-range nukes, ISIS is pathetically weak.
Personally, I am not convinced of that assessment. I am included in the recent survey where 83% of Americans believe another major attack will happen here in the United States; more than 50% in this survey fear they or those close to them will be victims; 16% are certain they will be harmed; 53% believe no Syrian refugees should be admitted to the United States. There is a sense of anxiety, fear just under the surface of our everyday existence. The reality of terrorism as part of our lives in modern times has itself become reality.
The peril to the United States is now predominantly from persons arriving from overseas. We, the West, are now fighting in a new type of warfare--a global threat posed by a virulent, radical proponent of Muslim extremism recruiting from the disaffected youth of Europe and even here in the United States. An estimated 350 Americans have made the pilgrimage to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS; the number is in the thousands in Europe--more than 1000 in France alone. Many of these European Islamists are free to travel throughout Europe and even to the United States. The current tactic of ISIS is to incite and radicalize these individuals to strike in place--where they are living.
In this global threat of terrorism, America's borders are of renewed importance, and especially our immigration system allowing refugees in legally and in large numbers in a short period of time as Obama proposes to do. Tying this to the Syrian refugee crisis is rather elementary--simply this: if the terrorists cannot enter the country, they won't be able to commit an attack as they did in Paris.
ISIS has vowed that the intent is to use the Syrian refugees in their overwhelming numbers to infiltrate ISIS agents into their midst for immigration to the Western countries now vying to accept them in the pretext of "humanitarian relief"--this includes the United States.
ISIS' latest videos show attacks planned for New York City's Time Square and Washington, D.C. in the foreseeable future. They usually are not bluffing when they launch such a propaganda effort. They do not want to lose face with their supporters if they put out these videos and nothing happens. It's all about their credibility.
Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies, as presented at the hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, on November 19, 2015, and entitled "The Syrian Refugee Crisis and Its Impact on the Security of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program" has provided me a good conclusion to Part III:
"A wise man once said "The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils." Halting refugee resettlement from the Middle East would be just such an act of statesmanship.
The starting point of any policy debate is that the government of the United States has no responsibility to anyone but the citizens of the United States... the president and members of Congress must necessarily put the interests of the American people before the interests of foreigners.
This means the United States government has no responsibility to refugees; they have no claim on it and no right to demand anything of it. If, nonetheless, we decide as a matter of policy to devote resources to humanitarian refugee protection... then we should base our decision-making on two principles: 1) Such policies must not pose a threat to the American people, and 2) the funds taken from the people through taxes for this purpose must be used to the maximum humanitarian effect.
Officials have assured us that refugees are "are subject to more intensive security than any other type of traveler to the U.S. to protect against threats to our national security." There is no reason to doubt this.
But this misses the point. The problem with trying to screen candidates for resettlement from Syria - or any other failed state, such as Somalia, Libya, Yemen, or Afghanistan - is not a lack of resources or commitment.
The problem is that it cannot be done.
And yet, Barbara Strack, Chief of the USCIS Refugee Affairs Division, told the Senate hearing last month that more than 90 percent of Syrian candidates for resettlement were being approved. How stringent can the vetting of Syrian refugees really be when almost all of them are accepted?
In discussing the costs to taxpayers of bringing in the refugees, something politicians avoid addressing to us, Krikorian points out that the better solution is to provide for them there in their own environment, close to where they came from:
The Center for Immigration Studies has calculated that it costs 12 times as much to resettle a refugee in the United States as it does to care for the same refugee in the neighboring countries of first asylum, namely Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Given these limitations on resources, I submit that it is wrong-- morally wrong --to use those resources to resettle one refugee here when we could help 12 closer to their home.
We will be following the argument for the near future to determine how our elected leaders solve the dilemma of the Syrian refugees--and even, maybe, at long last, address the problem of immigration overall.
Am I hoping for too much from them?
Major Dennis Copson is a retired United States Marine and is a resident of Oceanside, California. He is a freelance writer and editor.