Okay, “Muslim immigration halted in wake of Chattanooga terrorism attack” isn’t today’s newspaper headline. But it ought to be.
We ought to halt all legal immigration and refugee resettlement from Muslim-majority countries and declare an indefinite moratorium — until two changes occur. First, we must devise a better way to identify and deny admission not only to terrorists but also to persons who sympathize with radical Islamism. It will surprise the average American to learn we are not capable of doing that today.
The need for those new rules is highlighted by a recent poll showing more than 40 percent of Muslims in the U.S. would like to see Sharia law imposed, and an alarming number admit a sympathy for ISIS and radical jihadists.
Second, we must change naturalization laws to create a 7-year probationary period during which any new citizen of any religion or national origin can be stripped of citizenship and deported easily if the person demonstrates any support for radical Islamists.
Why do this? Because we are at war with radical Islam. It is time we started acting like we understand that reality.
I am not suggesting we end all Muslim immigration forever, but a moratorium is overdue so we can develop new, more sensible and effective policies and screening procedures.
A few facts will help illuminate our problem.
- During the Cold War with the Soviet Union and international communism, immigration was not open to communist party members from the USSR and communist bloc nations, and refugees from communist nations were admitted only after rigorous vetting on a case-by-case basis. There is plenty of precedent for barring potential enemies from legal entry to the United States.
- Immediately following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, refugee resettlement fell 90 percent from its high point in 1980, reaching a new low of 27,100. We had other priorities that year, and we should have other priorities today.
- In the decade following the terrorist attacks of 2001, the US admitted twice as many refugees from Muslim-majority nations as in the decade preceding 9/11.
- Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, we have admitted over 3,000,000 refugees. There is an ostensible ceiling of 70,000 annually, and 69,986 were admitted in 2014.
- Refugees are now coming mainly from predominantly Muslim nations, not Vietnam or Central America. In 2014, 46 percent of refugees came from the Near East and South Asia, 23 percent from sub-Sahara Africa, 23 percent from East Asia, 6 percent from Latin America and 1 percent from Europe.
- Refugees are selected for resettlement in the US not by any US agency but by a United Nations agency based on the UN Refugee Convention. U.S. policies are governed by the Refugee Act of 1980.
- Refugee settlement and placement in U.S. cities is handled by the federal Health and Human Services department operating through contracts with private charitable organizations, not by American immigration agencies.
- Local government has no voice in who or how many are settled in local communities by HHS, and local taxpayers bear the full cost of social services after initial settlement.
Under current federal law, refugees can apply for naturalization after five years residence in the U.S. It is fair to ask, is the FBI capable of doing complete background checks and adequate vetting of every Muslim in that growing naturalization pipeline? Judging from the events in Chattanooga, the answer is probably no.
Congress can and must address the crisis in refugee admissions from Muslim nations, and Congress should be prepared to override Obama’s veto of sensible reforms. We cannot expect a President who welcomes the Muslim Brotherhood into the White House on a regular basis to welcome changes of this sort.
You could argue that since President Obama’s policies have created the refugee explosion in North Africa, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, the U.S. has an obligation to accommodate the refugees fleeing the chaos. Yes, to some degree, that is a valid argument for humanitarian policies. But that does not excuse the absence of adequate vetting to separate the sheep from the goats—or the wolves, in this case.
One month ago, on June 23, the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence held public hearings on what chairman Peter King called the “intelligence void and the escalating homeland security threat.” What the committee is justifiably concerned about it the ongoing lapses in the vetting process for refugee settlement, despite some worthwhile reform in 2011.
Another serious concern is the lack of attention or priority for Christian refugees fleeing persecution in many Middle East nations under ISIS and Islamist attacks. For example, in 2014 we admitted only three refugees from Egypt, where Coptic Christians are being murdered daily.
The mainstream media and most of the political establishment are too quick to slander as “nativist” the advocacy of barring of Islamist radicals from legal entry into the United States. Such idiocy is one reason for the surging popularity of Donald Trump, who is not afraid to call out such stupidity and demand changes.
Refugee policy is only one part of immigration law needing a drastic overhaul. Will we get that overhaul? America’s survival depends on it.