This week on the podcast, we welcome Eric Schwartz, the Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Schwartz previously served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. In our conversation, he sketches the key aspects of U.S. refugee policy, explaining how it both protects the security of the United States and at times undermines its ability to accept refugees.
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The attacks in Brussels on Tuesday morning are a harrowing reminder that global threats to liberal democracy are born domestically as well as abroad. It is incumbent upon lawmakers in Europe and in the United States to respond to concerns about public safety and to put forth a viable strategy to combat violent extremism over the long-term.
Headlines around the world over the last two weeks have warned of the impending "humanitarian catastrophe" in places like Aleppo should Assad regime forces continue their march unimpeded.
CESME, Turkey—The Instagram handle “mr.masih.razavi” is scrawled on the wall of a half-built beach hut in which, until about a month ago, smugglers held refugees before loading them onto boats bound for the Greek island of Chios. I now follow Mr. Masih Razavi. Six days ago he posted a photograph of himself in a wine shop—presumably not in Afghanistan or Iran where Mr. Masih, a Farsi speaker, is likely from. It would appear that he made it.
ISTANBUL, Turkey—The Aksaray metro station opens onto a concrete square. All day long, young men and families crisscross the open space. You can hear every dialect of Arabic spoken here: it’s mostly Syrian and Iraqi, but sometimes also Egyptian, Libyan and Moroccan. Men sit the entire day around the edge of the central fountain, waiting—it’s unclear for what.
We are told that EU officials are only now discovering that most of the “refugees” whom they had welcomed into their countries are actually not refugees at all, but are, in fact, the long heralded and dreaded economic migrants: those hideous creatures whose eventual appearance onto the historical scene has long been predicted by certain sociologists and economists.
ISTANBUL, Turkey/BEIRUT, Lebanon —An ironing board stands in the corner of the room, behind a television set showing Spiderman with Arabic subtitles. A 17-year-old Syrian smokes shisha on the couch in his undershirt and socks; his next coal glows on the stove. Another young man meticulously wipes down the kitchen counter and places dishes on the drying rack with care.
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Not so very long ago, during Lebanon’s civil war, the way a person said the Arabic word for tomato was enough to get him or her killed. In at least one instance, Phalangists (Lebanese Christian militia members) set up a checkpoint, asking people to give the Arabic word for tomato to pass. The answer could win a reprieve — if the person used the Lebanese pronunciation: “banadurra.” Or it could spell a death sentence — if pronounced the Palestinian way: “bandora.” The difference is that of a short vowel. Most other Arabs say “tomatim.”
Typically, this blog does not focus on immigration law. That seems to me appropriate. After all, most immigration questions are, while matters of profound importance to Americans, not really questions of national security. To be sure, the immigration function resides within DHS because Congress thought that security concerns needed to be paramount, but any fair assessment of the immigration law begins with the reality that the vast majority of immigration decisions are related to economics and politics and that by and large national security plays a background role in the discussion.
By land, by sea and, occasionally, by air, they come carrying with them all what they have left in this bedlam world, which is often nothing more than the clothes on their back. They come seeking shelter and the promise of a better future for themselves, their children and their siblings. Many of them have probably lost a family member or more, many more, to Syria's five-year old conflict, and they have seen many horrors on their way. They arrive weary, injured and in some ways even broken and in need of healing, in need of compassion.