By Joe Guzzardi
February 10, 2014
House Speaker John Boehner officially tabled for this year an all-encompassing immigration bill because, he said, President Obama can’t be trusted to enforce either existing laws or ones that might be passed.
Boehner is only telling the convenient part of the story, however. Even though Republican leadership that includes Boehner, Whip Kevin McCarthy, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan are tripping over themselves to bow at the Chamber of Commerce and Mark Zuckerberg’s cheap labor altar, they can’t sell amnesty to their caucus.
Still, regarding Obama’s immigration untrustworthiness, Boehner is spot on. Starting in 2011 with his prosecutorial discretion for certain illegal immigrants and continuing through 2013, Obama has unconstitutionally circumvented Congress. First, he extended deferred action for so-called childhood arrivals and then removed from potential deportation some alien parents of minor children and military members’ illegal immigrant families.
Obama’s latest immigration transgression may be, since it puts national security at risk, his most serious. Last week, the administration published two new rules that may grant asylum to as many as 3,000 Syrian refugees who have allegedly provided “minor material support” to terrorists. The definition of minor material support isn’t set in stone but with an immigration-sympathetic Congress, it’s certain to be broad.
The administration and refugee advocates said the existing rules needed an overhaul to correct the too stringent antiterrorism laws passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Officials said the new exemptions have been under consideration for years and the White House acted under the authority it was granted as part of a 2007 bipartisan compromise reached under President George W. Bush.
Texas Senator John Cornyn spoke for many disgruntled Republicans when he said that the U.S. is a nation of laws and that the White House is not allowed to unilaterally suspend immigration law on a whim. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was more direct. Goodlatte asked why with today’s national security threats the U.S would willingly loosen its immigration laws to allow those who have helped terrorists game the system?
America’s refugee policy is already the world’s most generous. The United States accepts more permanent refugees than any other nation, more than half the number selected for worldwide resettlement each year. Since 1975, the U.S. has taken in more than 3 million refugees. Nearly 60,000 worldwide refugees came to the United States 2012.
But the system is too lax and riddled with holes. The Judiciary Committee recently obtained a confidential internal audit document that showed the level of asylum fraud is 70 percent.
The latest, most tragic example is the Chechen Tsarnaev family that fraudulently filed for and subsequently received asylum without a background check. The sons, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan, bombed and killed three at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
More refugees, Syrian or otherwise, is a mistake and goes against America’s best interests. Besides taking terrorist risks, the U.S. also underwrites refugees’ financial obligations. Refugees immediately qualify for welfare benefits and work permits at a time when the federal budget is stretched thin and the job market saturated.
The Obama administration is under heavy international and refugee resettlement agencies’ pressure to admit more Syrians. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, for example, wants 15,000 Syrians admitted this year alone.
Nevertheless, given that the U.S. is a prime terrorist target and will likely remain so indefinitely, more refugees, Syrian or otherwise, is a mistake and goes against America’s best interests. National security must trump refugee policy.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]