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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Bullying Migrants or Bonafide Refugees?

By now, it must be painfully obvious to all but the willfully ignorant or ideologically disabled that the flood of Muslim migrants into Europe is the result of a terribly flawed US foreign policy in the Middle East over the past 6-7 years. That said, per international agreements what are we in the West supposed to do?

First and foremost, since these migrants haven't been properly interviewed by the UNHCR to determine if they meet the internationally accepted definition of "refugee", it is unclear if these people are, in fact, refugees at all. Second, if, owing to a "well-founded fear of persecution", a person flees his country of origin into a neighboring country, the UNHCR is, per international agreements, tasked with the responsibility of interviewing, vetting, housing, feeding and providing for their medical needs until a third country offers them a firm resettlement opportunity. (Note: not even a UN-approved refugee has the option to choose to which country s/he will emigrate. In fact, should a refugee refuse a legitimate resettlement offer from a third country--whether it be the refugee's first choice or not--s/he is automatically disqualified from resettlement anywhere.) Third, prior to a third country's offering a resettlement opportunity, the refugees in question must be interviewed yet again by that country, and prior to final approval each refugee must undergo a thorough medical and security screening as well. Fourth, so long as the conditions in the first country of asylum to which the refugee has fled remains safe and accepting of the refugee's temporary presence, or until it is determined that they are not refugees, they may remain there (under UN auspices) until such time that a firm offer of resettlement is forthcoming or until conditions in their country of origin permit them to safely and voluntarily repatriate to their home. The first asylum county may also offer the inducement of local integration, though that is not all that common. (Note: in no case can a UNHCR-approved refugee be forcibly repatriated to his country of origin if doing so jeopardizes the refugee's safety.)

Thus, before trying to sensibly deal with this current flood of displaced persons from the ME and the Subcontinent, it must FIRST be determined IF the persons in question are, in fact, and per international protocols, refugees! Tragically, for this wave of migrants, this simply hasn't been done by either the UN or the West! In short, we have no idea with whom we are dealing. None!

What we see today are thousands of people (overwhelmingly young males, by the way) forcibly entering neighboring countries and aggressively gate-crashing their way to those countries which most appeal to them as choice resettlement sites, e.g. Germany. Kinda' like a disorderly "black Friday" swarm of shoppers at the local shopping center.  Folks, this is completely at odds with the way refugee resettlement is--per international agreements--intended to work. The behavior of this unruly influx of unvetted migrants into Europe today smacks of bullying, a far cry from those "huddled masses yearning to be free" for whom we should all have compassion.

Finally, there is absolutely no reason why these migrants--temporary sojourners, displaced persons, asylum seekers, whatever--should be resettled in Europe or the United States. There's really no need for such a massive and essentially unregulated resettlement undertaking by the West. Why? From a financial, geographical and cultural standpoint, the Gulf States, admittedly not known for their compassion and generosity toward their fellow Sunni and Shiite Muslims, are more than fully capable of housing, feeding, clothing, educating and medically caring for these displaced persons until they are able to safely return to their homelands in the ME and the Subcontinent. The problem is no one in the Administration or in Congress is convincingly advocating for this much more sensible solution. Why? Because Obama has ZERO influence, trust and leverage with these, our fallen away and disenchanted Gulf State "allies".

So, should the US of A go ahead and resettle improperly interviewed or hastily screened Muslim refugees from the ME or from any other corner of the world? Duh. NO! More precisely, for national security and economic reasons, I strongly recommend an emergency moratorium on the resettlement of Muslim refugees/migrants/displaced persons in the United States. We can continue to generously help them while they are safely housed in perfectly habitable refugee camps in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

Finally, the way the American government as well as the Europeans have dealt with this "crisis" is so bone-headed, insane and knee-jerk as to be downright mind-boggling. So much for enlightened leadership.

I've worked directly with refugees nearly all of my adult life both here and abroad, so I'm NOT saying don't help needy refugees. I'm  all for that. But, what I AM saying is to help legitimate refugees in an orderly, intelligent and professional manner so that our own security and economic interests are properly safeguarded as well. 

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