Refugee Debate May Blow Immigration Issue Sky-High

The Obama administration wants to admit 100,000 Syrian refugees by 2017. News that one of the Paris terrorists was a Syrian refugee who entered Europe through Greece has led at least 23 governors, mostly Republicans, to move to keep Syrian refugees out of their states. GOP presidential candidates have also weighed in, opposing Obama’s plan. The president got on his high horse today, denouncing as “shameful” and “not American” the idea of accepting refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East only if they are non-Muslims fleeing religious persecution.

There are several things going on here, which add up to an explosive combination. Let’s itemize some of them:

1) The United States is already accepting enormous numbers of immigrants from Islamic countries. Since 2001, as part of America’s unprecedented wave of immigration, we have already issued 1.5 million green cards to immigrants from Muslim countries. Within the next 5 years, under current policy, the U.S. can expect to resettle well more than half a million migrants from Muslim countries, including around 350,000 from the Middle East and about 200,000 as formally-designated refugees from Muslim nations. Obama’s 100,000 Syrians would be on top of these numbers.

2) While the overwhelming majority of Muslim immigrants have been, and no doubt will continue to be, law-abiding, the reality is that Islam is as much a political movement as a religion. It does not recognize any separation between church and state. Islam is a supremacist theology which demands elimination of, or domination over, all other faiths, including atheism and agnosticism. Further, Islam is implacably hostile to such American policies as equal rights for women and homosexuals. Given that little or no effort is made to promote Americanism or assimilation of immigrants to our culture, it is reasonable to ask why it is in America’s interest to import millions of Muslims and make them and their descendants citizens. Most Americans have not heard a good answer to that question.

3) Resettling refugees is enormously expensive. For the most part, they are heavily dependent on government aid. The Heritage Foundation’s Robert Rector estimates that the net cost of resettling 10,000 refugees averages out to $6.5 billion over the lifespan of those refugees. So resettling 100,000 refugees will cost around $65 billion.

4) President Obama says that those who don’t agree with his policy are unAmerican. If that is true, just about all Americans are unAmerican. A recent Rasmussen survey asked: “How many refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries should the government allow to come here?” The choices were zero, 10k, 25k, 50k, 65k, 100k, 100+ or unsure. The winner? Zero, at 49%. 20% said 10,000. How many support Obama’s determination to admit 100,000 Syrian refugees? Just about none. Only 7% support admitting 100,000 not just from Syria, but from all Middle Eastern countries.

Immigration is an issue where the federal government has treated the views of most Americans–almost all Americans, in fact–with contempt. Why? Liberals tend not to have many children, so they have decided to import as many voters as possible; in particular, low-skilled immigrants who are expected to be reliable Democratic Party supporters. Most of the anger we are seeing in this election cycle stems from the federal government’s cynical disregard not just of the opinions of Americans on immigration, but of the interests of Americans with regard to immigration.


5) Against this bleak landscape, Syrian “refugees” present special problems. The administration admits that we have no way of vetting Syrians to weed out the ones who are ISIS agents or are otherwise dangerous. This is a serious problem, since ISIS claims to have embedded a large number of terrorists within the flood of refugees, and everyone agrees that some of the purported refugees are in fact terrorists-in-waiting. But we have no way of knowing how many there are, or how to identify them.

6) Beyond those who are ISIS sleepers, presumably a small number, we have the odd fact that 75%-80% of those streaming out of Syria are young men of military age. This is a strange demographic for refugees fleeing a war zone. The most benign possibility is that after settling here they will send for their relatives, increasing the cost of resettlement exponentially. The less benign possibility is that the government will wind up supporting an unassimilable cohort of discontented and potentially radicalized young Syrian men.

7) From a humanitarian perspective, there is a good alternative that will benefit far more Syrians than any immigration policy. The U.S. can work with its European allies to establish safe areas in Syria, enforced by no-fly zones. In this manner we could protect far more than 100,000 Syrians without requiring any of them to leave their country, and without the enormous economic and social costs imposed by more mass immigration to the U.S. But establishing safe zones in Syria runs counter to Obama’s foreign policy of passivity, everywhere and always. This is one more instance where our president’s deep devotion to left-wing ideology is diametrically opposed to common sense.

While few know the statistics, most Americans understand the above points. Immigration is already the number one issue in the 2016 election cycle, and if Obama continues to push for even more mass immigration from the Middle East, the already-combustible political environment could come to a boil.