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Immigration

As many of you know, I’m an immigrant. My parents and I came here as refugees from the Soviet Union in 1980, so this weekend’s Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” hits close to home.

First of all, let’s get something straight: this isn’t anything new. President Obama in 2011 all but halted visas for Iraqis after two Iraqi immigrants were arrested in Kentucky on suspicion of terrorist ties. Further back, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first piece of American legislation meant to prevent a specific ethnic group from entering the United States. The left’s Patron Deity of Statist Assery FDR in 1942 turned away hundreds of desperate Jewish refugees on the SS Drottningholm, claiming they were a threat to national security.

It’s a shitty history, but I don’t see the pearl-clutching condemners of Trump’s recent Executive Order mentioning it in their current outrage about the halt to immigration.

There’s some good analysis here, although I’m loath to ascribe malevolence to this order, as the author of the blog does. When analyzing any piece of information it is inadvisable to make an assessment on the state of mind of the subject, unless it’s blatantly obvious. It is not here. The text of the Executive Order says nothing about Islam or Muslims, and 45’s calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” provide context into one possible motivation. Alternatively, he could be just keeping a campaign promise, or trying to examine what is needed to improve our visa system before he allows any more refugees into the country. It does not necessarily imply malevolence.

To be sure, the executive order does not say anything as crass as: “Sec. 14. Burdening Muslim Lives to Make Political Point.” It doesn’t need to. There’s simply no reason in reading it to ignore everything Trump said during the campaign, during which he repeatedly called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

So, no, I’m not going to assess malice, where so little evidence for it exists.

Additionally, despite the screeching about Muslim countries where Trump has business interests not being included in the ban, the logic behind including the countries it did include is a bit more complex than that. The list of countries enumerated in the EO was apparently based on one signed into law by the former Obama administration in late 2015. The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act was part of an omnibus spending bill, and the ACLU and NIAC Action — the sister organization of the National Iranian American Council — both opposed the act, which passed despite their protestations.

That said, the author of the blog is correct in that it should be worrisome that the EO, which usually undergoes a rigorous interagency process to ensure it is correctly written and reduce any chance of the order being misinterpreted in any way, was not coordinated with the relevant agencies.

I will leave it to others to make the hefty assessments about the efficacy of the new EO. I’m not an expert on border security, but there’s a part of me that wonders how the hell green card holders, who have already been living and working in this country without problems, all of a sudden represent a threat to national security.

Yeah, this is me. In my Russian school uniform in first grade.

Yeah, this is me. In my Russian school uniform in first grade.

I will say this, however. As an immigrant, I remember how grateful, how honored we were to enter this country! We were vetted – meticulously so – given the fact that we entered this country at the height of the Cold War from a nation that was the primary national security threat to the United States. We waited around in Italy, filling out paperwork and our backgrounds being investigated for more than a month. And the debriefings continued months and months after we crossed the border into the country.

Being allowed into America was always a privilege for us. It was an honor, and we worked hard to pay this country back for its kindness, its freedoms, and the opportunities it afforded us to work, achieve, and succeed. We were willing to do everything possible to be allowed to enter, stay, and ultimately become citizens.

Our first apartment in Brooklyn, NY was smelly and roach infested. No matter how much the building management sprayed, the roaches were everywhere. I woke up in the middle of the night once to get some milk, walked into the kitchen, turned on the light, and found my hand was covered in cockroaches. We raided trash on our neighbors’ curbs for clothing and furniture. The public school I attended had me in a class of 40 kids with no ESL classes, so I sat there day after day, not understanding a word of what was being taught.

Maybe I’m crazy, but there seems to be a certain amount of entitlement to today’s refugees. They expect to be processed quickly, regardless of whether or not the resources exist to vet them properly. They’re entitled to benefits, assistance to needy families, housing, and Medicaid. And yet, some sue because the schools aren’t good enough. They are detained at the airport? Outrage. There’s a temporary ban placed on their entry? Outrage. It’s like they’re entitled to be here. Like they’re entitled to enter because off their plight, regardless of the threat – no matter how insignificant – to our own people.

It strikes me as a bit… presumptive. It’s like their plight gives them the right to come here. Coming here should be an ultimate honor – a privilege granted to those who are trusted to enter, not an entitlement.

Now, I really do have the utmost sympathy for refugees striving to escape violence and bloodshed. My heart bleeds for them, and I would like nothing more than to see these people safe – far away from Asad’s atrocities and Russian bombs. But at the same time, I’ve always said that need is not a claim check, and as someone who has dedicated her life to ensuring this country and her people are safe, our first priority should always be our own people.

To say that I’m torn on the topic is… well.. an understatement.

But as a former refugee, a naturalized citizen, a military veteran, and someone who took an oath to protect this country – someone who understands the desperation of abused, persecuted, and hurt people  – I also have to remind myself that the security of this country should always come first.

If it doesn’t, these poor, abused people will have no country to escape to.

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29 responses

  1. Chinese Exclusion Act is why folks from the Middle East are, officially, white according to the USG.

    We had to sue the feds to keep them from counting us as Chinese because we were from Asia.

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  2. The text of the Executive Order says nothing about Islam or Muslims, and 45’s calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,”

    Were you expecting him to actually use those words or that phrasing?

    What he did do was carve out a narrow religious exception, which has the EFFECT of being that ban.

    Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.

    You don’t have to be a Mensa candidate to read between the lines here. He is talking about carving out exceptions to his ban for CHRISTIANS in those countries.

    But there ARE Muslims who are religiously persecuted inside those seven countries. They happen to be called “refugees” right now for that very reason.

    President Twitter Fingers tweeted that there were a lot of Christians being executed in the Middle East. There ARE, no doubt about it. But there are far more Muslims being killed by other Muslims over there than Christians. I noticed that he doesn’t quite have the same concern for THOSE innocent people…

    I spent nine hours in YVR last night trying to get home. There was nothing in Trump’s order about people with dual citizenships (hint: CITIZEN) yet they refused to process us for NINE HOURS while they got “instructions”.

    Here is MY problem with all of this

    Whenever you make a major change in something, it is typical to have a period of time between the creation of a law or rule and the actual implementation of said law or rule. Not this time. No, he jack the thing out and immediately implemented it with ZERO thought as to who or what he is effecting.

    For crying out loud, there were people in the middle of their itinerary when he signed the order. Many of these people were on one-way trips back home here to the US. Many of them are legal residents here in the US and were finding themselves stranded, detained, or returned from where they came — even if they aren’t from there.

    It’s going to be a LOOONG four years.

    Unless President Pence and Vice President Ryan take over…

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    1. Were you expecting him to actually use those words or that phrasing?

      Let’s be realistic here. He doesn’t give a fuck what people think, and I wouldn’t have been surprised. But again – malicious motivation or simply keeping campaign promises? We’re not in his head. I think he’s someone who is injudicious in the way he puts things. But that’s just me.

      For crying out loud, there were people in the middle of their itinerary when he signed the order. Many of these people were on one-way trips back home here to the US.

      Gen. Kelly has already nixed that shit.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure, the EO may have its flaws, but it’s healthful in essence, and that’s what matters!

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        1. It’s got loopholes one could drive a truck through. It’s terribly written – not just has flaws. Trust me. It’s awful. The guy who wrote the blog I quoted said his lawyer friend thought it was written by a legal intern or something. I’ve seen a lot of EOs. I’m familiar with the process and how they should be done. This was… well… a shit show. I don’t give anyone a pass – Republican or Democrat.

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        2. Nick, you’re so convicted of the facts and convincing in your appraisal, that I’m unable to disagree with you. However, if the persons in charge of drafting and releasing such OEs are so incompetent, I make myself available to handle the job.

          Despite anything, I still stick to my former opinion that the purpose of that instrument is to protect the country from the hordes of illegal immigrants and criminals that have already taken its control, as they pose a terrible menace to the American people, and that must be avoided at all costs!

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    2. That might have a little something to do with the fact that Christians in those countries ARE being targeted for persecution based on their religion. However, it doesn’t preclude Jews (also under special targeting) from being given special consideration. Nor, if the order were extended to Burma/Myanmar would it preclude Muslims from being specially protected. (Thailand, too.)

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  3. Yes, I fully agree with your reasoning.

    When I started reading your lines, I expected you to take a biased stand on the subject matter, considering that you were a refugee yourself before entering the US. However, that impression faded away quickly.

    To make sure, many countries are an ominous place for their people, but that doesn’t mean that one country in particular has to fling open its gates to accommodate all the refugees in the Planet, subject to making its own people refugees themselves in the future.

    I agree with Trump’s measures, aimed to mitigate the immigration problem at home, as many Americans haven’t yet perceived the danger their country is being exposed to.

    Now, jumping across the pond, the UK, Germany and other European countries are still unconcerned in this respect, and the price they are already paying is expected to soar.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. You hit the nail on the head. Need is not a claim check. I’m exhausted of this notion that America’s *FIRST* responsibility is to be the charity bank for the world. Don’t get me wrong… helping folks in need is a good and fine thing to do.

    But America comes first.

    And I’m glad you held on to that, even through the struggles of your own life and where you came from originally. Immigrants who have gratitude for what America has offered to them (for they were accounted worthy of the honor) can be a great boon to the country. And most of the older immigrants (not calling you old, so don’t shoot me, but you get the meaning) have that gratitude.

    The newer generations of immigrants are rife with those making entitlement demands, claiming that America is racist-sexist-homophobic-islamophobic and a host of other ills. Instead of saying “wow, America is great, wouldn’t it be great to be American?” The line is now “America sucks, and so you owe me. Where’s my check, where’s my free shit, and why am I not first in line?”

    No, we don’t owe those folks shit. If they don’t like it, they can crawl back to whatever shithole they came from. Immigration isn’t a fucking charity service. We get to choose who we let in. If many Muslim countries are rife with America-hating terrorists, and we decide not to take the risk, that’s OUR choice. Too bad, too sad. Agree, or disagree, but we’ve every legal and moral right to do that.

    Now, the day that American citizens are subjected to religious bans, that’s when you’ll see me get real pissed off. Being selective about who you give entrance and citizenship to is one thing. But once they ARE citizens, you don’t get to pick and choose anymore. I highly doubt Trump will ever do that, but if he ever did, he’d earn a hell of a lot of American enemies.

    And on a side note, I’m glad you came, Nicki. Pleased to have you as a fellow citizen, even when we sometimes disagree.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Never ascribe to malice what can satisfactorily explained by incompetence. This EO was very probably a snap-kick to round out the week.

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  6. I’m the descendant of many generations of people emigrating from Europe and England to the USA. Some of them came here to escape religious persecution. They all came in by the front door. That is what I’d expect of any sovereign country, any government with an ounce of common sense.

    I do not have the bleeding heart view that anyone with tears in their eyes has a right to be here, or is entitled to anything without giving something in return.

    Since I know quite well that both of our neighbors, Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, have strict immigration rules, and some of the Central American countries such as Belize are even more strict, never mind the extreme rigidity of countries like New Zealand, I fail to understand why anyone should think for one tiny second that WE are required to provide an open door to anyone who simply wants to wander in and set up camp, unrestrained. Angela Merkel’s biggest mistake was the open door policy, which has backfired badly on her and the entire Eurozone, and she has admitted that it was a mistake.

    So what is it that makes anyone anywhere think that WE are required to just endure the swarm and should not question who they are, where they come from, and what their intentions are? We have the same right to protect OUR country from the Bad People, especially now, that other countries have. We have the same right to say “N-O, No” if we think it’s appropriate. If Mexico and Canada, in addition to other sovereign countries can do that, why should we be told it’s wrong?

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I have tried to stay out of the fray about the entire issue, as I can’t add anything, and there is so much vitriol on both sides, that my two cents worth won’t plow any new ground. The thing that has struck me hard about the whole thing though is the media. It started when there was a slowly building of a protest at some of our nations airports. The news networks broke into whatever they happened to be showing and went live to shots of some major airport to show someone marching, no matter if it was just a couple dozen people, and then they had to of course have the talking heads tell how bad Trump was for doing such a thing to people yearning to be free, or whatever. This of course I expected, but what strikes me as showing just how biased they really are is that last weekend there was the annual march on Washington against abortion. This year, Vice President Mike Pence even spoke, an historic thing in it’s own right. The media was for the most part silent, save for the right leaning Fox news. Nowhere to be seen was CNN, MSNBC, or the others. The march brought out thousands. The week previous was the women’s march which had also thousands, and it was wall to wall coverage by the media. I think that the media is trying to make amends for enabling the election of Trump by giving him so much free coverage during the election cycle, and are doing everything in their power to make sure that he fails no matter what he tries to do as president. They are doing a good job of it so far.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting little article:

    http://www.bizpacreview.com/2017/01/28/iraqi-translator-detained-airport-stuns-reporters-surprising-answer-president-trump-441477

    I’m somewhat amused that the media expected this guy to react as if America and its’ President was worse than Iraq.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. You mentioned the perception of entitlement, which is what I’ve noticed. I think there are many things that led to it, but it’s reached a point the constant complaining, protests, and threats will only lead to more restrictive immigration laws, and vetting that will only allow a percentage of those that could be great U.S. citizens.

    While the media is showing those making the most noise, they’re ignoring the vast majority of those in the U.S. concerned about the number of illegal aliens in the United States. They made their initial thoughts known with the election of Trump. The continuance of civil unrest will only lead to more resolve to close the borders to all, and a push to rid the country of those already here; regardless of their legal status.

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  10. Your entry was relatively easy compared to what immigrants went through during the 1840s to the 1920s. Anyone coming in during that time had to be sponsored by someone already here and had citizenship to guarantee that the person wouldn’t be a burden on society. This was especially true for the Irish and the Eastern European peoples plus any signs of TB/Cholera/Malaria, etc earned a one way return trip back to the old country.

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    1. We still had to be sponsored AND guarantee we weren’t looters. That hadn’t changed back then. My aunt and grandfather both had to guarantee they would ensure my family weren’t mooching. Although, they didn’t have to be citizens to sponsor us, they did have to be permanent residents.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was similar for the Armenian side of my family. But they came in around 1914.

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  11. This isn’t a cure-all, but it is part of getting a handle on things. The Boston Marathon bombing brother’s family were genuine refugees (if you’re on Putin’s bad side, it is best to get the hell out of there.) One brother wanted to represent the US in the Olympics and the other actually became a US citizen. Yes, the Russians did tip us off about them, but I don’t put harassing the kids of your annoyers past Vlad, even years later.

    Of course how are you going to vet people from six of those areas which are, in effect, failed states. And Iran has essentially been at war with us since 1979.

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    1. Technically, the Tsarnayevs weren’t refugees. They came here on a tourist visa and subsequently applied for political asylum.

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      1. I recall the line from financial firms advising. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future expectations. All the vetting in the world doesn’t mean that if we don’t stop ISIS recruiting methods on the internet and other means from reaching those already here and at risk of being caught up in the lure of their appeal, we won’t continue to see more homegrown terrorists. Even if we never allow another immigrant into our country, we still have much to do, to combat terrorism. Do we need to get a hand on who we allow into the country, certainly, but do we need to stop allowing any one block of people in, as a means of controlling who we allow in, probably not. If we have to do that, we are not doing a very good job of screening anyone. And believe me, I think that we suffer if we don’t have people from every corner of the world here in this country. It is what makes us strong, and what makes us uniquely American.

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  12. Given my known family history, my brain does a double take every time I hear the phrase “The US is a nation of immigrants.” While true to a great extent, there are few mentions or acknowledgements of the fact that there are still Americans whose families arrived in a time where the term “settler” is more appropriate. These hard, rugged people helped create the country that made it desirable for others. They came not for any benefit that may have been granted by the government other than the benefit of opportunity. They also fully embraced being “Americans” whereas today’s immigrants seem to feel as if they are citizens of country-x and just happen to be living in the US; while feeling entitled to a part of our nation’s welfare state.

    When “Old English” Isaac Horton and John E. Wright brought their post-revolutionary families from Montgomery County VA through Anderson County TN to south central Tennessee in the 1820’s, there were no government programs in place to ease their burden. The WIC Program was the milk cow tied up out back that you hoped the Creek Indians didn’t steal in the middle of the night and pizza delivery took 12 days.

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  13. I am not a U.S. Citizen, but, from what i read about the bill, the main problem seems to be that it also affects green card holders and other permanent residents from those countries, who just happen to currently be outside of it, even if their lifes, jobs, businesses and properties are still in the U.S.
    Call me old fashioned but i think a government should owe more protection than that to the people who have been granted the rights to life and work within its borders through proper legal channels and who have been a productive parts of it for years on end, even if they do not (yet) hold citizenship.
    I would get the idea of a hold on new visas (not agree with it necessarily, but see it as a legitimate step), but the effects of the current EO are utterly appalling to me.

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    1. It’s not a bill. It’s an executive order. There’s a difference. As for the green card issue, that’s already been resolved by DHS Secretary John Kelly.

      That’s what I mean when I say it was a badly written order.

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      1. I think it’s probably the opening offer in a negotiation. Those are frequently excessive, giving you room to back down to what you actually want.

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  14. […] friends shared yesterday’s blog entry about immigration. Of course, there was screeching outrageary on both sides. Here’s how the […]

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  15. […] islands of thoughtful analysis (see David French at NRO, D.C. McAllister at The Federalist, and Nicki F at The Liberty Zone). I spent some small amount of time trying to calm people down myself. In doing […]

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