On Monday, President Obama denounced Republicans, including Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush, who suggested that the U.S. should admit Christian refugees fleeing persecution in Syria, but not Muslims from the same country. Obama called such a “religious test” “shameful” and “not American.” Today he doubled down, asserting that Republicans who object to resettling tens or hundreds of thousands of Islamic refugees from Syria in the U.S. are helping ISIS.
President Obama apparently is unaware of the controlling federal law, or maybe he just doesn’t care what the law says. It wouldn’t be the first time. Andy McCarthy tries to set Obama straight:
In his latest harangue against Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and other Americans opposed to his insistence on continuing to import thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria and other parts of the jihad-ravaged Middle East, Obama declaimed:
When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted … that’s shameful…. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
Really? Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission
must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.
Moreover, to qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , U.S. Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion:
The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion [among other things] …[.]
The law requires a “religious test.” And the reason for that is obvious. Asylum law is not a reflection of the incumbent president’s personal (and rather eccentric) sense of compassion. Asylum is a discretionary national act of compassion that is directed, by law not whim, to address persecution.
There is no right to emigrate to the United States. And the fact that one comes from a country or territory ravaged by war does not, by itself, make one an asylum candidate. …
In the case of this war, the Islamic State is undeniably persecuting Christians. It is doing so, moreover, as a matter of doctrine. Even those Christians the Islamic State does not kill, it otherwise persecutes as called for by its construction of sharia (observe, for example, the ongoing rape jihad and sexual slavery). To the contrary, the Islamic State seeks to rule Muslims, not kill or persecute them. …
And it is downright dishonest to claim that taking such religious distinctions into account is “not American,” let alone “shameful.” How can something American law requires be “not American”?
There are strong practical as well as legal reasons for distinguishing between Islamic applicants for asylum and similar applications by Christians or others. We know that ISIS is trying to infiltrate terrorists into groups of migrants leaving Syria; there is some evidence that they have succeeded. As McCarthy says, no one has a right to emigrate to the U.S. The government’s first duty is to protect the American people, not to extend favors to foreigners. Moreover, Obama’s “compassion” argument falls flat. A recent Center for Immigration Studies report found that, for the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we could instead care for 12 refugees overseas. That is a much more cost-effective approach, and one that will not impose needless dislocation either on us, or on the refugees.
JOE adds: I have to say that by far the most disconcerting thing about Barack Obama as a man is–and this is a matter of objective observation, not of interpretation–that the only thing that really gets him emotionally fired up is his own conservative countrymen. The South China Sea, Ukraine, Russia, Syria, Iran, North Korea–nothing seems to faze this guy quite like Americans who read Burke.