Reforming Refugee Admissions
Comment from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) to the FY-2008 Refugee Admissions Program stakeholders’ meeting Chaired by Asst. Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey
I am Jack Martin, Special Projects Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. FAIR is a national membership organization that works to educate the public and policy makers about the need for immigration reform in the long-term interests of the American people.
Refugee admission policy is an integral part of the nation’s overall immigration policy. For that reason, it is appropriate that the nation’s refugee admissions policy be rethought at the time that the immigration policy is undergoing reform efforts.
The considerations that are appropriate for that review include the issue of family reunification, national security, assimilation, and size of the program.
With the administration proposing the structuring of our family reunification system to focus on the nuclear family rather than the extended family, it is appropriate that the same consideration be introduced into our refugee policy.
With concern over the continuing threat from jihadist Islamic radicals, our refugee admission policy should not be focused only on whether Islamic refugees have been identified as linked to radical jihadist movements, but whether they fit a profile of a population among whom jihadists have shown an ability to recruit.
The nation has a rapidly growing unassimilated immigrant population. The size of the refugee population and the characteristics of that population in terms of ability to learn English and find well paying jobs should increasingly shape our refugee policy.
The American public is generous in supporting an active program of refugee assistance and in accepting refugee resettlement. However, increasing evidence of assimilation problems and cultural clashes can jeopardize that generous spirit.
It is not acceptable that the United States continues to accept more resettled refugees than the rest of the world combined. The U.S. refugee resettlement program should be scaled back so that our intake of refugees is no larger than our share of contributions to the United Nations budget. This measure should help to encourage other nations to increase their intake of refugees.
The recently announced agreement with Australia to swap illegal entrants is nothing more than a farce designed to maintain the fiction that we will not accommodate illegal immigration. Accepting illegal immigrants to Australia as legal immigrants to the United States is a perversion of our immigration policy.
Finally, we must cease the discrimination in favor of Cubans that is inherent in the ‘wet-foot dry-foot’ policy. That policy not only encourages illegal alien smuggling from Cuba, it creates a dual standard that undermines our policy with regard to other Caribbean countries. Unless illegally arriving Cubans present a prima facie case that they have a well-founded fear of persecution if sent back to Cuba, they should be returned the same as those Cubans intercepted on the high seas. Similarly, the Cuban visa lottery should be eliminated on the same basis that it is discriminatory.