The Corner

America, the Dumping Ground

Our refugee system contains a million kinds of stupid. Admitting Somalis who’d been settled for years in Pakistan – like the Ohio State jihadi and his family – is only one of them.

Another “refugee” absurdity was revealed recently – the Obama administration has agreed to admit illegal aliens intercepted at sea by Australia and held in camps outside that country, on two Pacific islands. The number of people said to be affected is reported to range from 1,600 to nearly 2,500; my colleague Nayla Rush has an overview here.

These are people Australia has decided do not warrant refugee status (or what our law would consider asylum). Therefore they have no right to move to Australia. But for a variety of reasons, Australia cannot, or does not want to, send them back, and the “refugees” won’t accept offers of resettlement in New Guinea or Cambodia because they’re holding out for a First World country. What’s more, their presence in those Australian-run camps on the islands of Nauru and Manus (the latter owned by Papua New Guinea) has become a political headache. Most are from Iran, with smaller numbers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and elsewhere.

I can see why Australia would want this deal; it costs Oz taxpayers $2 billion to run the two island detention facilities and closing them down would rid the government of the headache. But if Australia doesn’t consider them refugees, why should we take them? It appears we’re doing this as a favor to Australia; some speculate it’s a quid pro quo for Australia’s taking some U.S.-bound illegals in camps in Costa Rica, though how that’s comparable isn’t clear, and Australia has denied any such bargain.

The chairman of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Bob Goodlatte and Chuck Grassley, also want to know why we’re doing this, and they wrote to the secretaries of State and Homeland Security asking for details on the secret agreement to bring the illegal aliens here. When Capitol Hill staffers asked the State Department how many such “refugees” would be resettled here under the secret deal, they were told the number was “classified.”

DHS officers have already been dispatched to the islands to start processing the illegals for placement in a town near you, and it’s not clear if the Obama administration will be able to rush them to the U.S. before President-elect Trump’s inauguration. If they don’t get them here in time, they might not be relocated here at all, given Trump’s pledge to suspend immigration from terrorist-ridden countries where adequate screening cannot be done – countries like Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan…

Whether or not the Australia scheme reaches fruition, it’s important to realize that it’s not unusual. For years now, the State Department has been using resettlement back in America-land as a way of making other countries’ diplomatic problems go away. They’ve done this with the Somali Bantu, Bhutanese in Nepal, Meskhetian Turks from Russia, Bangladeshi Rohingya from Burma, and others. What they have in common is that they are groups the State Department has decided to collectively move to the United States for foreign policy purposes. In other words, the refugee program is being used as a way of smoothing over diplomatic disputes in the interest of maintaining global stability, with the “irritant” populations being dumped in American communities for the hicks in flyoverland to cope with as best they can. This is yet another area of immigration policy that urgently needs change.

Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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