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  • Article: What is the United States accomplishing with its refugee program? By Nolan Rappaport

    What is the United States accomplishing with its refugee program?

    by


    If you are having difficulty viewing this document please click here.

    Reprinted with permission.


    About The Author

    Nolan Rappaport was an immigration counsel on the House Judiciary Committee. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals. He also has been a policy advisor for the DHS Office of Information Sharing and Collaboration under a contract with TKC Communications, and spent time in private practice as an immigration lawyer at Steptoe & Johnson. He is retired now, but he welcomes part time and temporary work.


    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      Last week, the refugee refuseniks were warning us that Syrian refugees were potential terrorists. This week, the story is that they will all go on welfare. Every time there is a refugee crisis, America has no shortage of naysayers to sound the alarm that the refugees, wherever they are from, will either be a danger to or a burden on American society. Such was the case with the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970's.

      Or what about the Mariel boat lift from Cuba in 1980? Remember that one? Fidel Castro announced that he was going to empty out his prisons and mental institutions and send all the inmates to Florida in small rafts. Members of the educated (mainly while) elite of Cuban society who had made up most of the Cuban refugee population before 1980 these people were not. There was such a hue and cry about how America was letting in criminals and welfare takers that even Jimmy Carter had to change course and adopt restrictive measures against the Marielitos in order to assuage public opinion. Carter also later blamed his own initial acceptance of the Mariel boat people for his loss to Ronald Reagan in November of that year.

      Yes, a very small number of the Mariel boat people did commit crimes after they arrived in the US and, no doubt, a few of them probably also went on welfare. But, according to studies of that period, most became productive members of society, and without causing any significant increase in unemployment among American citizens in the Miami area, where most of the boat people settled. Most, if not all, of the hullabaloo about them was over nothing.

      Someone recently suggested to me that Syrian refugees cannot be expected to have the work ethic of Cuban refugees. In other words, does this mean that Syrian refugees cannot be trusted to seek or find gainful employment, even as many of Cuba's former prison and mental hospital inmates were evidently able to do? Or are Syrians culturally or congenitally incapable of making significant contributions to our society? Steve Jobs, the child of a Syrian immigrant (admittedly not a refugee), would have respectfully begged to differ with that assessment, I am quite sure.

      Finally, Nolan suggests that the real solution to the Syrian refugee problem would be to eliminate the conflict that is causing it. Yes, it would be nice if we could eliminate war, dictatorship and religious or ethnic persecution from the face of the planet earth. Hopefully, that will happen one day. Will any of us who are now reading or writing comments on this site live to see it? Will our great-great grandchildren's great-great grandchildren? Until that utopia arrives, the world will continue to have refugees, and the moral and humanitarian obligations that go with them.

      America, in accordance with our great humanitarian tradition, should fulfill these obligations to this latest wave of refugees, as we have in the case of so many other refugees or displaced people from many different parts of the world in the past.

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
    1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
      Nolan Rappaport -
      Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs View Post
      Last week, the refugee refuseniks were warning us that Syrian refugees were potential terrorists. This week, the story is that they will all go on welfare. Every time there is a refugee crisis, America has no shortage of naysayers to sound the alarm that the refugees, wherever they are from, will either be a danger to or a burden on American society. Such was the case with the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970's.
      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law
      I am criticizing the American refugee program because it is failing to provide the help that refugees need to be successful in this country. We are spending a lot of money on our refugee program, but it isn't providing much of a life for the refugees we accept. Instead of helping them to achieve the American Dream, we are running them through an ineffective Refugee Resettlement Program that leaves most of them unable to find employment that pays enough for them to support themselves and their families. According to the most reliable information I could find, most of them are living at or near the poverty line on welfare and food stamps. They deserve better.

      If Roger cares as much about the refugees as he indicates with his comments, he should be supporting me in my efforts to improve the American Refugee Resettlement Program instead of .
    1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
      ImmigrationLawBlogs -
      If the thrust of Nolan's article is that the refugee program should be improved rather than suspended, I would certainly support his article. Possibly I may have misunderstood his point. I would also be in favor of vastly expanding this program for humanitarian reasons. At the very minimum, we should be taking in 100,000 Syrian refugees, ten times the amount that President Obama has offered to accept.

      Germany, with one quarter of America's population, has offered to accept up to a million Syrian refugees, a hundred times Obama's cowardly, almost meaningless offer to take in 10,000. Whom is the president afraid of - Donald Trump, who has promised to send any Syrian refugees America takes in back to that country's hellhole to be blown to bits by Assad's barrel bombs or to be beheaded, crucified or burned to death by ISIS? Other Republicans who are trying to score political points off the terrible suffering of millions of innocent refugees by demonizing them as potential "terrorists" or "burdens on our social service system"?

      According to one report I have read, Germany's screening has so far not turned up a single Syrian refugee with ISIS or other terrorist connections. I do not know the details of their screening program, but Germany does not exactly have a reputation for being lax when it comes to police-related matters.

      Having said the above, I have to agree with some Republican leaders who blame Obama's gutless hands off policy in Syria for helping to create the worst refugee/displaced persons crisis since WW2. And, at the risk of heresy on the liberal side, there may be a valid argument that there would be fewer Iraqi and Afghan refugees if Obama had not pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan so soon.

      ISIS now controls a third of Iraq, and the Taliban may be on the point of retaking all of Afghanistan, putting that country back to where it was before President Cheney and Vice President G.W. Bush invaded that country. (No, this last sentence is intentional, not a typographical - or historical - error.)

      Roger Algase
      Attorney at Law


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