This comes from David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Niskanen Center, via the Foundation for Economic Education(FEE):
After the attacks on Paris, many politicians — including (so far) the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Texas — have called for stopping refugee flows to the United States from the Middle East, claiming that the refugee process poses a major threat to America’s security. Here are six reasons why ending US refugee resettlement is a mistaken and reactionary approach:
Assuming that the user of a fake Syrian passport found near the body of an attacker belonged to the attacker, which isn’t clear, he exploited the flow of people into Europe, but he was not a refugee. He did not receive refugee designation from the United Nations or vetting from intelligence agencies. He was never approved for refugee status in any country. To become a refugee in the United States, you undergo a multi-stage vetting process and only after receiving UN designation by trained officers in the field. The United States can vet refugees prior to admission, which means we can weed out terrorists and those most likely to become involved in terrorism, accepting only the most vulnerable. Europe cannot do the same. What happened in Paris is not applicable to the US refugee process.
- The Paris attackers were not refugees.
The history of the US refugee program demonstrates that the lengthy and extensive vetting that all refugees must undergo is an effective deterrent for terrorists. Since 1980, the United States has invited in millions of refugees, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East. Not one has committed an act of terrorism in the United States. Traditional law enforcement and security screening processes have a proven record of handling the threat from terrorist posing as refugees.
- US refugees don’t become terrorists.
The previous point can also be made another way. Non-refugees have carried out all foreign terrorist attacks over the past 35 years. That means they used other means to arrive in the United States. All of the 9/11 hijackers used student or tourist visas. These visas are much easier and faster to obtain than refugee status, which takes up to two years and requires a multi-stage vetting process and UN referral. Refugee status is the single most difficult way to come to the United States. It makes no sense for a terrorist to try to use the resettlement process for an attack.
- Other migration channels are easier to exploit than the refugee process.
If it needed mentioning, there’s this reminder:
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
The Catholic Catechism instructs the faithful that good government has the duty to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the human person. Persons have the right to immigrate and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nations: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.” Catholic Catechism, 2241.
In January 2003, the U.S. Catholic Bishops released a pastoral letter on migration entitled, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.” In their letter, the Bishops stressed that vulnerable immigrant populations, including refugees, asylum seekers, and unaccompanied minors, should be afforded protection, without being placed in incarceration while their claims are being considered: “Refugees and asylum seekers should be afforded protection. Those who flee wars and persecution should be protected by the global community. This requires, at a minimum, that migrants have a right to claim refugee status without incarceration and to have their claims fully considered by a competent authority.” No. 37. “Because of their heightened vulnerability, unaccompanied minors require special consideration and care.” No. 82. Asylum seekers and refugees should “have access to appropriate due process protections consistent with international law.” No. 99.
And finally, St. John Paul issued this message in 2003:
Membership in the Catholic community is not determined by nationality, or by social or ethnic origin, but essentially by faith in Jesus Christ and Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity. The “cosmopolitan” make-up of the People of God is visible today in practically every particular Church because migration has transformed even small and formerly isolated communities into pluralist and inter-cultural realities. Places that until recently rarely saw an outsider are now home to people from different parts of the world. More and more, for example, the Sunday Eucharist involves hearing the Good News proclaimed in languages not heard before, thus giving new expression to the exhortation of the ancient psalm: “Praise the Lord, all you nations, glorify him all you peoples” (Ps. 116,1). These communities therefore have new opportunities of living the experience of catholicity, a mark of the Church expressing her essential openness to all that is the work of the Spirit in every people.
The Church understands that restricting membership of a local community on the basis of ethnic or other external characteristics would be an impoverishment for all concerned, and would contradict the basic right of the baptized to worship and take part in the life of the community. Moreover, if newcomers feel unwelcome as they approach a particular parish community because they do not speak the local language or follow local customs, they easily become “lost sheep”. The loss of such “little ones” for reasons of even latent discrimination should be a cause of grave concern to pastors and faithful alike.
This takes us back to a subject which I have often mentioned in my Messages for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, namely, the Christian duty to welcome whoever comes knocking out of need. Such openness builds up vibrant Christian communities, enriched by the Spirit with the gifts brought to them by new disciples from other cultures. This basic expression of evangelical love is likewise the inspiration of countless programmes of solidarity towards migrants and refugees in all parts of the world. To understand the extent of this ecclesial heritage of practical service to immigrants and displaced people we need only to remember the achievements and legacy of such figures as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini or Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini, or the extensive present-day action of the Catholic relief agency “Caritas” and of the International Catholic Migration Commission.
Often, solidarity does not come easily. It requires training and a turning away from attitudes of closure, which in many societies today have become more subtle and penetrating. To deal with this phenomenon, the Church possesses vast educational and formative resources at all levels. I therefore appeal to parents and teachers to combat racism and xenophobia by inculcating positive attitudes based on Catholic social doctrine.
Being ever more deeply rooted in Christ, Christians must struggle to overcome any tendency to turn in on themselves, and learn to discern in people of other cultures the handiwork of God. Only genuine evangelical love will be strong enough to help communities pass from mere tolerance of others to real respect for their differences. Only Christ’s redeeming grace can make us victorious in the daily challenge of turning from egoism to altruism, from fear to openness, from rejection to solidarity.
The path to true acceptance of immigrants in their cultural diversity is actually a difficult one, in some cases a real Way of the Cross. That must not discourage us from pursuing the will of God, who wishes to draw all peoples to himself in Christ, through the instrumentality of his Church, the sacrament of the unity of all mankind (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1).
At times that path needs a prophetic word that points out what is wrong and encourages what is right. When tensions arise, the credibility of the Church in her doctrine on the fundamental respect due to each person rests on the moral courage of pastors and faithful to “stake everything on love” (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 47).
May Mary our Mother, who also experienced rejection at the very time when she was about to give her Son to the world, help the Church to be the sign and instrument of the unity of cultures and nations in one single family. May she help all of us to witness in our lives to the Incarnation and the constant presence of Christ, who through us wishes to continue in history and in the world his work of liberation from all forms of discrimination, rejection and marginalization. May God’s abundant blessings be with those who welcome the stranger in Christ’s name.
Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP / Getty Images