By Joe Guzzardi
September 14, 2015
Last week, President Obama suggested that his administration would be willing to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Observers consider the total to be a trial balloon to measure Congress and the public’s reaction. Seventy-two House Democrats demanded that the U.S. accept at least 130,000 while the GOP is leery and counters that a large influx of Syrians represent a pipeline for ISIS to invade America.
House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said that bringing thousands of refugees could be “reckless and dangerous.” Reporters on the scene noted that a large percentage of the migrants were young, male and casually dressed—not the typical profile of a refugee. Hungarian Catholic Bishop Lazlo Kiss-Rigo called the flow an “invasion” of individuals who are not true refugees but who instead represent a grave threat to Christian, universal values. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees confirmed that 75 percent of the so-called refugees are men.
The calls on the White House to do more are numerous and powerful. Even though the U.S. admits more than twice the number of refugees than the rest of the industrialized world combined, the influential and profitable refugee resettlement industry wants more. And during Pope Francis’ upcoming visit, the pressure will intensify.
Few Americans realize that a federal process exists that governs how many refugees the U.S. will take. According to the Refugee Act of 1980, the president cannot simply declare what that total is. The Senate and House Judiciary Committees are required to hold hearings each September to detail exactly how many refugees the U.S. should take, where they should come from and why accepting them is in the nation’s best interest.
Refugee Resettlement Watch, a website that monitors U.S. refugee policy, found that no hearings have been held since 1999. The president issued what’s known as the Presidential Determination which outlines the exact policy for the fiscal year which Congress then rubberstamps. Even in the event of “emergency refugee situation,” Congress must be consulted and must approve higher admissions. Yet Secretary of State John Kerry and Assistant Secretary of State Ann Richards indicated Obama might “open the floodgates” without seeking Congress’ okay.
Germany’s out of control situation—over 60,000 Syrians have arrived in Munich since August— has forced Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere to impose what he calls temporary control of its border, an admission that limits exist to what a country can do.
Because Middle Eastern migrants cannot simply walk into the U.S., the situation in the homeland is different from Germany’s. But videos of the EU’s inability to stop the migrants no doubt replayed in Central America and Mexico and could incentivize an even larger surge than the Southwestern U.S. experienced last summer.
Nations must secure their borders if they expect to protect their sovereignty. A Gallup Poll that surveyed 452,000 people in 151 countries found that 13 percent or 640 million, would like to leave their homes with 150 million preferring the U.S. as their final destination.
Resettlement should take place in neighboring countries so that when it’s safe, the refugees can easily return home. In Turkey, for example, Syrians are living in a camp they describe as safe and equipped with two schools and an infirmary. They’re eager to return to Syria when the country stabilizes.
The U.S. role is to assist in placing refugees as close to their countries of origin as possible and to repatriate them when conditions permit. Back home is where most long to be.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]