Wednesday, November 18, 2015

the American way

With politicians of all stripes now pandering to public fears of admitting Syrian refugees, it's worth remembering that American history is filled with such reactions. The Know Nothing Party in the mid-19th century opposed immigration, especially of Catholics. Congress outlawed Chinese immigration in the 1880s. The draconian 1924 immigration act drastically limited immigration of Jews and people from southern Europe.

And in the year before Nazi Germany launched World War II, Americans wanted to keep Jewish refugees away from our shores. As the Post usefully reminds us today,  2/3 of respondents to a Gallup Poll in July 1938 opposed taking in refugees from Germany and Austria.Six months later, 61% opposed even taking in 10,000 refugee children, mostly Jewish.

A more humane response is urged by former Ambassador Ryan Crocker:
When I served as ambassador to Iraq, I witnessed how the slow pace of processing left Iraqi refugees—including many who worked for the U.S. military—stranded in danger. Some died waiting for visas. That’s why the Obama administration should commit to resettling 100,000 Syrian refugees over the next year.
This is not an unmanageable security risk to U.S. citizens, as the governors and others have alleged. The U.S.’s vigorous screening process involves vetting from multiple security agencies. Refugees are also interviewed abroad by officers from the Department of Homeland Security before they are approved for resettlement. No population entering the U.S. is more closely examined than refugees.

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