In a surprising twist in the 2016 election, presidential aspirant Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed a new plan for helping President Obama resettle Syrian refugees in the United States.
Under Rubio’s new proposal, outlined on FOX News Sunday, the United States would focus on resettling the oldest and youngest refugees inside the United States, including those orphaned and widowed in what has become an Islamist battleground.
Rubio argued these refugees could be admitted under the “commonsense” test: “the 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, and well-known Chaldean priest, these are obviously commonsense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by commonsense.”
This new tactic may be a politically risky one for Senator Rubio, as an outright majority of all voters oppose any Syrian resettlement—and, according to Rasmussen, 65 percent of conservative voters want zero refugees admitted into the U.S. from the Middle East.
Under U.S. law, once a refugee is admitted, they are placed on a fast-track to citizenship and given instant access to federal welfare and can bring their foreign relatives into the country as well. President Obama has called for admitting 85,000 refugees from across the world this year, in addition to the regular admission of one million green card holders, 700,000 temporary migrant laborers, and half a million foreign youth for colleges.
Fox News’s Chris Wallace asked Rubio if he supported Paul Ryan’s legislative vision of allowing the president to admit these refugees under an administration-created screening procedure:
You say you want to block the admittance of any Syrian refugees, because you say, quite frankly, we don’t have the information, the intel, the database to vet them properly. Does that mean you will vote against the bill that was passed by the House this week overwhelmingly which would allow Syrian refugees into the country but under tightened security?
In his response, Rubio corrected Wallace, explaining that he was not calling for a refugee pause at all, and he would therefore support Ryan’s vision of increasing net immigration into the United States through Syrian resettlement:
No, my argument is that we can’t allow anyone into this country that we can’t vet. And I believe that the vast majority of refugees that are trying to come here [from Syria] are people we will not be able to vet. Does commonsense still apply? Of course, it does. A 5-year-old orphan, a 90-year-old widow, and well-known Chaldean priest, these are obviously commonsense applications, and you can clearly vet them just by commonsense. But what about someone who doesn’t fit that profile? There is no reliable database that we can rely on. There is no existing government institution in their home country that we can call up and run them against.
Rubio’s support for admitting the young and elderly would come at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. A young refugee would require extensive childcare, medical care, housing, and food support, while the older refugee in her nineties could require round the clock medical care. Moreover, if the elderly widowed refugee dies within weeks of arrival, presumably taxpayers might have to pick up the expenses related to death and burial as well.
Sen. Jeff Sessions has explained how this policy would also take Social Security and retirement benefits from Americans: “Immigration policy affects every aspect of society. Our constituents are entitled to have their Congress consider the issue carefully, since the president’s plan will take money directly out of American’s Social Security and Medicare retirement trust funds—while adding substantially to our nation’s long-term deficits.”
According to data from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 91.4 percent of recent refugees from the Middle East are on food stamps and 68.3 percent of recent refugees from the Middle East are on cash welfare.
Rubio’s declaration that there should not be a pause on refugee resettlement and that, “the House bill… is an appropriate response” is significant because the bill’s critics have explained that the House measure would allow the executive branch—rather than Congress—to decide who should be let in or not. In other words, while Rubio says he would like to bring in the oldest and youngest refugees from Syria, the Ryan proposal would still leave the choice exclusively in the hands of the administration.
As National Review’s Rich Lowry recently explained:
The [House] bill doesn’t explicitly pause the in-take of Syrian refugees; it adds an additional layer of certification. The theory is that figuring out how to do this will take time and therefore constitute an effective pause.
But it’s highly doubtful that an administration that has torn up the law to get its way on amnesty is going to let the need for a few additional signatures prevent it from working its will on Syrian refugees.
It is for this reason that, as Breitbart News reported, scores of House lawmakers who voted for Ryan’s plan do not consider it to be at all sufficient and are demanding a halt on one hundred percent of refugee resettlement—not just from Syria—and are demanding Congress block funding for the president’s plans.
Rubio, by contrast, not only did not call for a reduction or cessation in annual resettlement but, through his widows and orphans plan, called for a net increase.
Paul Ryan’s bill would allow the president to continue to bring in refugees from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran in any amount he chooses, and it would also allow for the creation of an entirely new annual program for Syrians bringing in aggrieved widows and orphans who may hold or develop hostile attitudes towards the U.S.—especially if they blame America’s foreign policy for the death of their loved ones. Moreover, these refugees will be able to bring in their foreign relatives.
As Rand Paul—who has called for halting all immigration from countries with jihadist movements—explained: “If we want to defend ourselves, we have to defend ourselves, and the first way to do it is to bar people from coming to your country who would attack you,” Paul told reporters last week. “I say from the Middle East, we don’t need any more immigrants… students or refugees or otherwise,” Paul said.
Rubio’s comments put him at odds with many of his presidential contenders. For instance, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has said, “I don’t think orphans under five… should be admitted into the United States at this point.” Christie specifically pointed to the cost that importing young refugees would impose upon Americans. “They have no family here. How are we going to care for these folks?” Christie asked. “I don’t trust this administration to effectively vet the people that they’re asking us to take in. We need to put the safety and security of the American people first.” This weekend, Christie reiterated his belief that the interests of the American people need to come first.
At a New Hampshire town hall, Christie declared, “I am concerned about widows and orphans—the widows and orphans of my state, the widows and orphans of September 11.” As The Washington Post’s David Weigel noted, the audience was impressed with Christie’s stance: “The crowd was transfixed, the only noise in the room coming from Christie’s microphone and the bar’s heater. For Christie, anyone who dismissed a refugee ‘pause’ had forgotten the victims of 9/11.”
As Andrew McCarthy has explained, the problem with the notion of vetting Syrians is not limited to the absence of any reliable records or any reliable way of knowing who supports ISIS or who doesn’t. Rather, McCarthy explained, the problem is about bringing in large numbers of “assimilation-resistant Muslims” who create fertile recruiting ground for ISIS terrorists. In other words, bringing in thousands of young Syrians with dead fathers is a security threat not because these young orphans are already terrorists, but because they can be recruited in the future, like Minnesota’s Somali refugees:
As McCarthy writes:
Listening to our Beltway solons – very much including Republicans – talk about this subject, you would think the only people we have to worry about are terrorists. Therefore, if you vet someone and determine he’s not a terrorist, it’s “mission accomplished” and you can give him asylum.
That’s not even half of the challenge. As we are seeing in France, and have seen elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East, jihadism thrives when it has a support system of sharia-adherent Muslims. In Europe this means – as it would mean here – enclaves of assimilation-resistant Muslims…
It is patently obvious that our security challenge is not just jihadists; it is the combination of jihadists and their support network of assimilation-resistant Muslims. Indeed, even if we could vet for all the currently active jihadists, it is from the assimilation-resistance Islamic communities that future “homegrown” jihadists will emerge – and that is apart from the material and moral support jihadists get from like-minded Islamists in these communities.
We not only remain willfully blind to what our actual security threat is.
As Sen. Sessions explained, following his Senate Subcommittee’s oversight hearing on the nation’s refugee program, the vetting process cannot take into account post-entry radicalization, which is enabled by the importation of large numbers of people who hold anti-Western values: “We are already struggling with a huge problem of prior Islamist refugees seeking to take up arms with terrorists, and we have every expectation that the Administration’s current refugee plans will exacerbate that problem,” Sessions wrote. “It is not a probability, but a certainty, that among the more than 1 million migrants from Muslim countries we will admit over the next decade, a number will already be radicalized or radicalize after their entrance into the U.S.”
McCarthy’s concerns have played out, most noticeably in Minnesota, which has the largest Somali population in the country and has struggled to stem terror recruiting. The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently reported that “Minnesota leads the nation in the number of people who have left or sought to leave the country to fight with terrorists aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria, according to a scathing congressional report that says the U.S. and western countries have failed to disrupt the flow of combatants to the Middle East.”
The report specifically cites two Somali-American Minnesotans who joined or tried to join ISIL, highlighting its online recruiting success through peer-to-peer recruiting that relies on social media and sophisticated online messaging techniques.
Young fighters from at least 19 states have tried to join terrorists in Syria since the start of that country’s civil war in 2011. Minnesota recruits made up 26 percent of the sample of 58 cases reviewed by the committee’s bipartisan task force.
In fact, in recent video footage captured on the streets of Cedar Riverside, Minnesota, showed a number of U.S. Muslims explaining that they preferred sharia law to American law. One boy who was interviewed explained that he would rather live under sharia law because it would promote safer communities: “Sharia law, it says that if you steal something, they cut off your hand,” the boy explained. “So, basically, [people] can leave their doors open. Nobody’s going to steal anything because Sharia is so tight.”
Additionally, Equality Now has issued a report highlighting another assimilation challenge posed by large-scale Muslim migration—specifically that, as a result of unbridled Muslim migration, half a million U.S. girls are now at risk of female genital mutilation.
Conservative columnist and best-selling author Ann Coulter wrote in her most recent column that the U.S. is struggling to assimilate many of the second and third generation Muslim immigrants. “We’re facing something much bigger than a refugee problem: We can’t assimilate them,” Coulter writes. “These days, second-generation immigrants are just as likely to shoot up Fort Hood as the first-generation Tsarnaev brothers are to blow up the Boston Marathon.”
Indeed, Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical Muslim cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen, was a U.S. citizen—having been born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. However, al-Awlaki was a prime target for radicalization because of his sharia background. As CBS News writes, “His parents were born in Yemen. His father, Nasser, al-Awlaki, came to the U.S. as a Fulbright scholar and studied agriculture economics at Mexico State University, and later received a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska.”
Similarly, “Jude Kenan Mohammad [who] was killed by a U.S. drone in Pakistan… was a U.S. citizen and former resident of North Carolina. He was born in Florida of a Pakistani father.”
As CBS News noted:
[Mohammed] went to high school in North Carolina, dropped out in 2006, but later received a GED. In 2008, he left the U.S. to visit his father, who had moved back to Pakistan. He later disappeared into the tribal areas of Pakistan, along the Afghanistan border. There he was trained, most probably by al Qaeda.
In 2009, a North Carolina jury indicted him and others on conspiracy charges to commit terrorism. As an American citizen, with a U.S. passport and American accent, he was the type of person U.S. authorities feared — and al Qaeda sought — to wage jihad in America.
Similarly, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, the 24-year-old Chattanooga shooter who was responsible of the deaths of four U.S. Marines this past summer, was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was “born in Kuwait and had Jordanian citizenship,” according to CNN. As CBS notes, Abdulazeez “came to the United States in 1996,” when he was around six years old.
In her most recent column, Coulter mocked Rubio’s for declaring he wants to destroy ISIS after passing legislation to expand Muslim immigration and refugee resettlement. “Rubio gives macho speeches about a military attack on ISIS—’either they win or we win!’—to distract from the fact that his immigration bill would have massively increased the number of needy immigrants pouring into our country—including Muslim refugees,” Coulter wrote. “Rubio’s plan for Middle East stability is to start more wars and then import all the displaced terrorists into the United States. Brilliant!”
Rubio’s most recent declaration to Chris Wallace is consistent with his past actions on refugee resettlement. Rubio’s 2013 immigration bill (S. 744) would have made it far easier to bring in refugees. As the Federation for American Immigration Reform explained in its analysis at the time, “Title III Subtitle D of S.744 undermines current asylum and refugee law by eliminating preexisting requirements aliens apply for asylum within a certain time frame of entering the U.S., allowing asylum officers to bypass immigration judges before granting asylum to unlawful aliens, and giving broad authority to the Administration to create new categories of refugees and stateless persons to be admitted into the country.”
As CNN has pointed out, while on the campaign trail, Sen. Rubio has continued to express his support for citizenship for the illegal immigrant population, which would necessarily include visa overstays from Muslim countries.