On The Syrian Refugee Issue

I’m with Tam on the issue, I’m glad it’s not my call. But I’ve seen a lot of conservatives arguing that because no background check can be 100% effective, and there are sure to be some jihadists among them, we don’t let any of them in. It only takes one to do a lot of damage. Let me play a bit of devil’s advocate, but in a different context.

There’s no way for a background check to be 100% effective, and one wrong person with a gun can cause a lot of damage, so we ban guns, right? Careful what lines of reasoning you use, lest that logic be applied to other contexts on issues you care about.

I don’t join with the left to suggest that if you don’t want to let them in your a horrible, racist person, and I think there are reasonable and non-racist arguments to be made for not accepting Syrian refugees. I’d just be careful with a “we can never be too safe” argument when it comes to background checks, because that leads to a certain conclusion in another context that would make most readers of this blog deeply uncomfortable.

23 Responses to “On The Syrian Refugee Issue”

  1. Acme_Rocket says:

    Admit more refugees, but exclude all able-bodied males, aged 16-45. It’s not a great idea, but it’s better than an all or nothing approach.

    • Publius says:

      All the children, but only women who are at least a 6 on the standard 10 point scale.

  2. The_Jack says:

    The trust & competence argument would be a stronger one to make if one were to want to balk at the refugee situation.

    Namely that the current administration’s performance with regards to Syria has been… spotty.

    Recall the 5k a year army the admin thought they could vet, supply, and train?

    I see this argument being something to ponder.
    The controversy over the resettlement of Syrians in the US reflects this duality. Refugees are normally a net plus for America because they consist in the main of self-selected group of hardy individuals who voted with their feet to leave a repressive situation. Moreover, they are potentially a good source of intelligence, a mine of contacts and potential agents who can be sent against the enemy as an earlier generation were employed to pentrate Eastern Europe or Nazi Germany.

    Of course the refugee flows will also contain a fair number of enemy agents and penetrators. However in the past America knew how to handle expatriates and gained from them far more than they lost. Or at least the public trusted that the Federal government could do so. The reason there is now such a visceral resistance to Syrian refugees is not due to some sudden slamming of the door or belated racism, but because the public has no confidence in the Obama administration to manage it properly.

    I suppose another way to bring it back… how much trust would we have working with the admin on fixing NICS?

    (It’s known that the admin can’t contract out to have web development, see the ACA portals. And it’s known that they would try to abuse any such laws passed and “intepret” to do what they want. Again see how the ACA was enforced and the trial balloons on executive action gun control…)

    Thus at the very least caution would be rather nice for any NICS reform, given the… nature of the current admin.

  3. Sebastian says:

    To me, they are fleeing their homes because the country is a war torn shithole, and chunks of it are controlled by murderous jihadists (Daesh, ISIS, or whatever we’re calling them today).

    I say offer them the choice to come here if their military age men agree to join a military unit which will be trained, equipped, and sent back to Syria to fight ISIS. I’m not sure why the Europeans aren’t also offering that kind of choice. We need an army to fight ISIS. Those young men should really be defending their own homes and own freedoms. So give them the choice. If you fight, hell, I’d agree to naturalize them upon their return, if they really want to come back. But I’d hope many would stay and help make their own countries places people want to live.

    We can’t keep doing the whole world’s fighting. At some point people have to take responsibility for their own freedom and liberty.

    • The_Jack says:

      That would fit in with existent plans to train a local force to do just that. So it could theoretically be coupled with immigration and future naturalization.
      But let’s be honest. You know how much the “smart set” would howl at the idea. They’d frame it as “you’re holding their families hostage to fighting in your war for aggression! They wanted to escape war and now you’re demanding they fight and die!”

      My guess is that negative backlash is why the Europeans aren’t doing it. Also in their case there’d be the critique of “Oh so you’re raising an imperialist army of native levies!”
      To be cold the idea of having “any” strings attached to immigrating into a country would be unconscionable for many, let alone mandating a martial service.

      At the very least, *if* such a program could get off the ground, one would think that said candidates would be self-selected to be motivated and said force would have more people and fare better than the force the admin had tried to raise.

      • aerodawg says:

        All you’ve got to do is say that women and children can come, but men 18-45 can only come if they join up.

        The pictures of these refugees are just loaded with men of that age, far more than you’d expect given a normal population mixture. Either their men are the biggest piles of crap in the world, leaving their women and children behind, or they’re not refugees.

        Either way I think the joining requirement would weed out a lot of the bad actors….

        • Sebastian says:

          Ironically, a lot of them could be draft dodgers. Given the way Arab armies are organized, usually along the Soviet model, I can’t say I blame them for dodging. I’m not sure there’s very many groups over there I’d want to die for either.

          • aerodawg says:

            Don’t doubt it. At the same time, the world is a #$&^#@# up place and sometimes as men we’ve gotta suck it up and do what we don’t want to.

            If we had some sort of massive ugly civil war here and you told me that the quickest way to get my wife and children to safety in say the UK, was to sign up to come back and fight, sign me up yesterday. My job as a husband and father is to keep my family safe, up to and including the ultimate end game…..

  4. Dave says:

    A friend of mine, who was a Mittens voter and who vehemently disagreed with my unwillingness to support Mittens commented thusly:

    “We have the ability and right to talk about whether or not to support or oppose a candidate, but if we don’t protect America’s national interest and security, we won’t have a country left to protect and won’t have the same freedom to discuss or disagree about things like this”

    his point was not lost on me and while I abhor the mantra of the right – “Show me your papers”, I think it’s patently stupid to ship Syrians thousands of miles when they could flee next door much easier. What’s wrong with Saudia Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan? There’s no need for the USA to be involved in this and it certainly presents a huge national security risk that simply is not worth the potential for reward.

    It’s like you’re having a party at your house for your Jewish neighbors, and a bunch of folks show up in black robes, masks, carrying scimitars and AK’s – asking ‘hey, we hear you hold awesome parties, mind if we come in and take part?”

    Sure, you can let them in if you want and I would applaud your enlightened sensitivity. or you think that using Jihadis as an example, substitute a corner crew, or patched motorcycle gang members or your butt-head neighbor down the street whom you know to be an abusive drunk with dodgy friends. You know if you let them in, bad stuff will happen. You don’t suspect, you KNOW.

    Letting them in, is in the words of someone I had great respect for would be “a poor life choice”.

  5. RAH says:

    If we admit people they have the same rights and can buy guns. Just because there are some bad apples does not mean that the most are not as law abiding as we Americans. We have a lot of criminal types also. We accept that risk when we take them in. Besides like criminals if they plan an attack they get them through the black market.

    Now I am against admitting more people. The mass migration will flood the country and since there are 1.3 billion Muslims I do not want our country changed by that. So keep them out. I would accept Christians only because they are persecuted by ISIS The majority of these refugees are Sunnis and they are not persecuted . They just want to be out of a war zone

  6. Alien says:

    First, admittance should be by existing, established legal immigration procedures rather than just stepping on a plane. The time lag in that process should be sufficient to determine who is serious about making the US their home and contributing to success and who isn’t. (Yes, the legal process is unreasonably combersome and time consuming and in need of improvement; that is no reason that the legal process should not be followed.)

    Second, anything and everything should be done to encourage those seeking admittance to improving their countries so they can build another America there.

  7. Aaron says:

    Immigrants come here to become Americans. I do not believe it is the same with war refugees. They come to escape war, but also to re-create some version of their home countries. This is horrible. Look at Europe.

    Here are wise words from Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

    “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American … There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”

    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

    • Archer says:

      Love him or hate him, that was one thing Teddy got right. He was against “hyphenated Americans” before hyphenated Americans were a thing.

      Makes you wonder about all the people who don’t assimilate, who choose to live, work, and shop exclusively in the “Chinatown” and “Little Mexico” and [pick your nationality] places. I can understand wanting some of the “comforts of home”, but at some point facts have to be faced: you’re now an American living in America. Where you came from might have been home then, but America is home now. And that’s something that should be enjoyed for what it is, not made into something else.

      Just my $0.0283 (adjusted for inflation).

  8. RAH says:

    The problem with generosity is that it is an invitation to all the worlds population to come. If you look where they are coming from it Africa and the Middle East and as far as Pakistan and Bangladesh. These are not war zone refugees This is an opportunity. Hence the flood into Europe from Merkel foolish invitation. Same problem when Obama said it was OK for Central and South America to come no questions asked under DACA. The people came in a flood. They bring their norms with them and change our country.

  9. dwb says:

    People have a legal right to own a gun, whereas refugees are coming here by invitation.

    Regulations and restrictions that apply to one thing, like autos and immigration, require a higher burden for constitutional rights. “Don’t make this argument because it might apply to guns” I find to be a specious concern.

    All constitutional rights have some trade off, we are willing to let a few people slip so that the general population is guaranteed liberty. Last I checked, Syrians don’t have a constitutional right to come here. I feel for them, but really most of the time I think that they ought to be fighting to make their country better, not running. And I will be happy to send them rifles to defeat ISIS, without any background checks.

  10. Brad says:

    I’ve heard from Weaponsman that the rule of thumb for wartime refugees is 1 in 10 is an agent of the insurgency.

  11. asdf says:

    Charles De Gaulle, 1959:

    “It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But [it is good] on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France….

    Arabs are Arabs, the French are French. Do you think the French body politic can absorb ten million Muslims, who tomorrow will be twenty million, after tomorrow forty? If we integrated, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered French, would you prevent them to settle in France, where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-The-Two-Churches but Colombey-The-Two-Mosques.”

    >This pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject. I guess I’m just an evil racist!

  12. Anne says:

    Americans have right to own guns.

    Syrians have no right whatsoever to come to the United States.

    • Sebastian says:

      You can make a natural rights argument that they do. Our founders would have likely agreed with them. Under the Constitional as originally understood there is no power for Congress to control immigration, only naturalization. Of course, there was no birthright citizenship then either. That didn’t come until after the Civil War with the 14th Amendment, and immigration restriction followed a few decades later.

      • Ian Argent says:

        I’d argue that there didn’t need to be any “explicit” birthright citizenship; since the “natural order” at the time of the founding was that your birthplace determined what nation (or monarchy, even) you were subject to. See British Impressment prior to the War of 1812; whose legal basis was that the (former) colonials were still subjects of HRH and subject to the laws of same. The Revolution settled that you could sever ties with your nation of birth, not that they didn’t exist.

        I am considering a post on the “natural right” to become an american

  13. Ian Argent says:

    I am disappointed but not surprised by the vitriol spilled (on both sides) over this issue; because in a lot of cases, it’s motivated by tribal signaling and use of policy as a weapon against domestic political opponents.

    On the other hand, this cycle is as old as the Republic. Young men who are Them come to the US, fleeing disaster made by man, nature, or both; face discrimination by the dominant culture; make a life and enough money to send home for their families; become pillars of the community; and in their turn join the community in deploring the next Them.
    English>German>Irish>Italian>Eastern European>African/Middle Eastern is the cycle so far (highly simplified, and not necessarily valid for the American Southwest).

  14. Anne says:

    Sebastian, actually our founding fathers had a contentious argument about what immigration to the USA was desirable:

    Many opposed just letting anyone in. It is interesting stuff.

    • Sebastian says:

      It was well understood that Congress had the power to control naturalization, which was who got to become a citizen and eligible for citizenship privileges like voting. What they didn’t have, and one of the arguments about keeping out people who had committed crimes mentions this, is the power to keep people out of the country. You could come here and work, live, etc. But Congress could control whether you became a citizen or not, and the 1790 Naturalization Act allowed any free white persons to petition for citizenship after living here two years. In 1795 they increased that to five years.

      The US has no immigration restrictions to speak of until the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Prior to that, there were only restrictions on who could gain citizenship.