Most of my friends know I practice immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.
I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.
The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.
First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.
Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.
We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.
Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
There's much more at the link and it's all from a guy who is enmeshed in the immigration front lines.
I see no reason to dismiss his credibility. I'm positive some will.
The mantra coming from some circles today is that if you're one who thinks the prudent taking in of Syrian refugees (particularly women and children) is a good thing, then you must be a leftist, an Obama shill, a dolt, or much worse.
So it was refreshing this morning to come across this piece by Matthew DesOrmeaux over at United Liberty that actually enumerates some of the good that might just come... one or two of which I had not particularly considered:
As a timely post at the libertarian Niskanen Center makes crystal clear, there are several good reasons that the US should continue accepting refugees and not abandon desperate, hopeless people because of fear.
3. Other migration channels are easier to exploit than the U.S. refugee process.
4. [Daesh] sees Syrian refugees as traitors.
5. Turning away allies will make us less safe.
6. America should demonstrate moral courage.
Those are all very good reasons, backed up with significant historical data. I encourage everyone to read the entire post. It addresses most of the arguments against refugee intake that I’ve seen over the last few days.
But there are at least two additional, equally important reasons we shouldn’t shut our doors to refugees of Islamist violence.
Numbers 3, 4 and 6 particularly ring true for me but it's the two additional ones and especially the last one that I consider to be exceptional food for thought.
In a previous post Rick questioned whether we can help Syrian refugees and at the same time fight Jihadists.
Over at Ace's Place we get some answers from the Obama administration –
Advocates for resettling tens of thousands of Syrians in the US say the process is robust, thorough and extensive. But in the end the reality is you can only check people's backgrounds against the information you have and when it comes to Syrians we don't have much.
But one of the senior administration officials at Tuesday’s briefing acknowledged the limitations inherent in screening refugees from Syria, where it’s very difficult to determine something as basic as an applicant’s criminal history.
“We do the best with what we have,” the official said. “We talk to people about what their criminal histories are, and we hear about that. That’s pretty much where we are.”
FBI Director James Comey, flanked by the nation’s top intelligence officials, admitted to the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday that for some of the 10,000 Syrian refugees the administration has agreed to allow into the U.S., there will be no basis to vet them through the databases it uses to determine if they have ties to terrorism.
“We can only query against that which we have collected, and so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interests reflected in our database, we can query our database til the cows come home, but … there’ll be nothing show up, because we have no record on that person,” said Comey.
“We’ve gotten better at that over the last couple of years, but it is a time-consuming process and one of the challenges that we’ll have is that we’re not going to know a whole lot about the individual refugees that come forward.”
The "gotten better" part is important because, let's just say there's a lot of room for improvement in the screening process.
Several dozen suspected terrorist bombmakers, including some believed to have targeted American troops, may have mistakenly been allowed to move to the United States as war refugees, according to FBI agents investigating the remnants of roadside bombs recovered from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The discovery in 2009 of two al Qaeda-Iraq terrorists living as refugees in Bowling Green, Kentucky -- who later admitted in court that they'd attacked U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- prompted the bureau to assign hundreds of specialists to an around-the-clock effort aimed at checking its archive of 100,000 improvised explosive devices collected in the war zones, known as IEDs, for other suspected terrorists' fingerprints.
The State Department is on the brink of releasing a long awaited document declaring the genocide of the Yazidi people in Iraq by ISIS... a declaration that would mean a great deal for the victimized Yazidi in terms of reparations.
A report by a renowned journalist states that Christians are to be excluded from an impending official United States government declaration of ISIS genocide. If true, it would reflect a familiar pattern within the administration of a politically correct bias that views Christians — even non-Western congregations such as those in Iraq and Syria — never as victims but always as Inquisition-style oppressors. (That a State Department genocide designation for ISIS may be imminent was acknowledged last week in congressional testimony, by Ambassador Anne Patterson, the assistant secretary of the State Department’s Near East Bureau.)
Yazidis, according to the story by investigative reporter Michael Isikoff, are going to be officially recognized as genocide victims, and rightly so. Yet Christians, who are also among the most vulnerable religious minority groups that have been deliberately and mercilessly targeted for eradication by ISIS, are not. This is not an academic matter. A genocide designation would have significant policy implications for American efforts to restore property and lands taken from the minority groups and for offers of aid, asylum, and other protections to such victims. Worse, it would mean that, under the Genocide Convention, the United States and other governments would not be bound to act to suppress or even prevent the genocide of these Christians.
An unnamed State Department official was quoted by Isikoff as saying that only the attacks on Yazidis have made “the high bar” of the genocide standard and as pointing to the mass killing of 1,000 Yazidi men and the enslavement of thousands of Yazidi women and girls. To propose that Christians have been simply driven off their land but not suffered similar fates is deeply misinformed. In fact, the last Christians to pray in the language spoken by Jesus are also being deliberately targeted for extinction through equally brutal measures.
Christians have been executed by the thousands. Christian women and girls are vulnerable to sexual enslavement. Many of their clergy have been assassinated and their churches and ancient monasteries demolished or desecrated. They have been systematically stripped of all their wealth, and those too elderly or sick to flee ISIS-controlled territory have been forcibly converted to Islam or killed, such as an 80-year-old woman who was burned to death for refusing to abide by ISIS religious rules. Pope Francis pronounced their suffering “genocide” in July. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and a broad array of other churches have done so as well. Analysis from an office of the Holocaust Museum apparently relied on by the State Department asserts that ISIS protects Christians in exchange for jizya, an Islamic tax for “People of the Book,” but the assertion is simply not grounded in fact.
There's more and it's all disgustingly predictable, It's also more evidence for this administration's prejudicial treatment toward Christians.
"The chant: "Tom Rochon. No confidence" echoed across campus Wednesday, shouted by at least a thousand students who took part in a "Solidarity Walk Out" at Ithaca College.
The demonstration was a response to ongoing concerns of racial injustice on campus.
Many on campus have called for a vote of no confidence for the college's president, Tom Rochon. According to the Facebook page for the event, members of the campus community will be "walking out for all the injustices students of color face on this campus and other colleges nationally. With University of Missouri's president stepping down, we demand Rochon to do the same as it is vital to fight against both covert and overt racism in all places of education and empowerment."
Mark Stern at Slate is glad the Mets lost the World Series because he thinks that their star infielder is "noxious":
The Kansas City Royals defeated the New York Mets 7–2 on Sunday night, winning the World Series in just five games. I am agnostic as to which team deserved to take the crown. But I’m thrilled that Mets (former) fan favorite and fomenter of homophobia Daniel Murphy played a crucial role in bringing his team to an embarrassing defeat.
These unqualified plaudits may have been merited. But they gloss over the fact that Murphy is perhaps the most explicitly and unabashedly anti-gay figure in major league sports today. Earlier this year, Murphy unloaded his thoughts about Billy Bean, an openly gay retired player and Major League Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion:
I disagree with his lifestyle. I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.
Murphy then tried to qualify his statement, comparing homosexuality to undesirable personality traits like “pride”:
Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride.
Of course, Murphy has every right to hold these beliefs, which earned him praise from such luminaries as the Westboro Baptist Church. He does not have a right to expand on them without discipline. Had an MLB player said something bigoted about a black or Jewish player, the league would have reprimanded him. Instead, it took no serious action against Murphy, effectively ratifying his views as reasonable and harmless.
They are not.
This is the state of discourse today with radical secularists and elements of the religious left. Mr. Murphy's "explicitly and unabashedly anti-gay" comments seem to me to be most tame, seem to me to be nothing more than an expression and application of considered Christian thought but Stern sees it to be nothing less than what he later in the piece calls "noxious personal prejudice."
It is Stern that is most explicitly and unabashedly displaying noxious personal prejudice. And he's doing so under what he wants the rest of us to believe is the banner of tolerance and open-mindedness.
It will of course only get worse. Religious expression in the common square is quickly becoming anathema and Stern's perspective will prevail in the not too distant future.
An American soldier was fatally wounded on Thursday as American and Kurdish commandos raided an Islamic State prison in northern Iraq after learning that the prisoners faced imminent mass execution, the Pentagon said. The commando became the first American soldier killed in action in Iraq since the withdrawal in 2011.
The raid, near the town of Hawija, freed 70 prisoners, including Kurds and more than 20 Iraqi security
forces, the Pentagon said in a statement. Five Islamic State fighters were detained and several killed, and American officials said important intelligence about the terrorist group was recovered.
Some details of the classified operation remained unclear. But as described by Iraqi officials in the area, the mission appeared to be a significant joint strike against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, at a time when Iraqi and American officials are trying to mount a wider counteroffensive against the militants.
Fears that the prisoners were in danger may have been reinforced by the militants’ actions in recent days. An Iraqi in the Hawija area, who asked not to be named because he feared retribution from the Islamic State, said this week that the militants had recently executed 11 young men who were the sons or relatives of police officers or other Iraqi forces. He said their bodies had been hanged on a nearby bridge.
American and Iraqi officials said the raid involved American helicopters, Kurdish and American Special Operations forces, and airstrikes. The commando who was killed was not identified pending notification of his family. Four Kurdish soldiers were wounded as well, officials said.
American officials said American helicopters flew the commandos to the site. Kurdish special forces were said to have been in the lead, but American commandos were also on the ground. American jets carried out airstrikes to cut the roads leading to the site.
“They cut off roads and raided the place successfully,” one of the Iraqi officials who confirmed the raid, Najmaldin Karim, the governor of the surrounding Kirkuk Province, said in a telephone interview. “They were able to take people with them.”
The slain soldier was the first American killed since military operations by the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State began in September 2014, but soldiers from other coalition nations have also been killed.
May God grant rest to the American hero slain and comfort to his loved ones.
A woman who claimed to have a grandmother inside a writing class in Snyder Hall, where a portion the
Authorities carry a shooting victim away from the scene... AP Photo
massacre unfolded, described the scene in a tweet.
“The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were Christian,” she wrote. “If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn’t answer, they were shot in the legs. My grandma just got to my house, and she was in the room. She wasn’t shot, but she is very upset.
The Twitter user then recalled how her grandmother attempted to save the life of one of her close classmates.
“She tried to perform CPR on her friend, but it was too late,” the woman said. “I hope nothing like this ever happens again.”
Kortney Moore, an 18-year-old student at Umpqua Community College who was also in the room, told Oregon’s News Review that the shooter was indeed on the hunt for Christians.
Moments after hearing a bullet come flying through a window, she said the 20-year-old shooter made his way inside and targeted their teacher, pumping a single round into their head.
As the young man ordered people to the ground, Moore laid patiently with her classmates and waited, according to the News Review.
Once they all got down, she said the gunman began asking people to rise and say what their religion was. After they stood and gave their answer, he started shooting.
God rest the souls of those martyred in His name.
And a pox on those attempting to score political points on this while being ignorantly oblivious as to what really went down.
Stargazers are in for a treat Sunday when a supermoon combines with a lunar eclipse for the first time since 1982.
The supermoon eclipse will last 1 hour and 11 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific, according to NASA. Weather permitting, the supermoon will be visible after nightfall, and the eclipse will cast it into shadow beginning at 8:11 p.m. ET. The total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. ET, peaking at 10:47 p.m. ET.
A rare phenomenon, there have only been five supermoon eclipses since 1900 (in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982). After Sunday, the next supermoon eclipse will occur in 2033.