Insane Asylum

An article published in the Vancouver Sun today highlights the soft spot the Canadian government-but also the American government-has for people who profess to seek sanctuary in the West. Although there are many fascinating aspects of the article, I found a quote by the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a grouping of democratic, industrialized economic powers, particularly intriguing.

“Current economic difficulties will not change long-term demographic trends and should not be used as an excuse to overly restrict immigration. It is important that immigration policy has a long-term perspective.”

This strikes me as a circular argument. We, as affluent, Western powers, need to allow entry to everyone-even if they have no ability or desire to assimilate into our culture, or to contribute to it in any substantive way-so that we’ll have more people who want to permanently settle here. Why this is considered an unqualified good-other than the insinuation that we have an aging population that the OECD believes needs to be replaced-is left unstated.

I realize that many Canadians are deeply disturbed by their government’s reluctance to impose any significant obstacles to the objectives of potential asylum-seekers, who wish to reap the benefits that come from living in their beautiful, affluent nation. A prime example of this desire being exploited by cunning refugees is the notorious Khadr family, a.k.a. the first family of terrorism, a group of individuals whose patriarch was assassinated by the Pakistani military for his association with Osama Bin Laden, and whose male children have all spent time, matriculating at the University of Gitmo, which, unlike McGill, doesn’t provide you with a relatively economical liberal arts education.

But the fact of the matter is that the American system of political asylum has gradually, but ineluctably, become just as skewed, and is now exploited by any and all people who see the United States as a soft touch, much like our neighbors to the north. In our case, it might not be a Pakistani family such as the Khadrs, but the many Somali refugees who have been resettled in the United States, from coastal Maine, to suburban Georgia, to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We now know-because the FBI has told us repeatedly-that there are dozens of young Somalis who came here because of  refugee resettlement programs created in the wake of the chaotic civil war gripping Somalia after the fall of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, but who have now returned to their native country in order to enlist in the ranks of al-Shabaab. This Islamist militia is responsible for numerous acts of savage, unprovoked violence, including the most recent suicide bomb that killed over sixty people-including one American-at a World Cup viewing held in Uganda.

The question we have to address under these circumstances is, “why were they here in the first place?” While there’s no question that we should feel sympathy for a nation that’s been plunged into chaos, and whose people have very few resources to draw upon, why is it incumbent upon the United States, or Canada for that matter-since they too have a similar problem-to offer sanctuary to Somali refugees, especially refugees whose backgrounds have not been properly vetted by the State Department or by the Department of Homeland Security?

Lest you think I’m unfairly targeting a single group, let me be clear by stating that this process has been abused by  individuals of virtually every conceivable nationality. One of the most notorious cases is that of  Emmanuel “Toto” Constant, a Haitian man who was a former leader in FRAPH-a post-Duvalier death squad responsible for murdering several thousand Haitians-and who settled in the sleepy neighborhood of Laurelton, Queens once he arrived in the United States. As if the fact that he was able to circumvent the American immigration system in order to get here wasn’t galling enough, he actually applied for political asylum-claiming that he would be persecuted if returned to his native country-once the federal government began to investigate the possibility of deportation.

Make no mistake, being compassionate is a good thing. But it does not preclude you from being diligent as well, and the one thing that we are certain of is that our policymakers have not exercised due diligence in administering our system of political asylum, as the anecdotes delineated above illustrate. It’s time to stop being so compassionate, and to start exercising some rational self-interest, which is one thing that is sorely lacking in our current system of processing asylum claims.

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