Between Donald Trump and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, there is sure a lot of immigration talk in the media and in politics. Not to go through the exhaustive task of attributing wisdom to each of its creators, let me, rather, address some of the observations political figures have made about the legal reality of immigration based on my twenty plus years of experience as a lawyer in the asylum game.
Islam is a religion that tolerates lying
In my years practicing immigration and asylum law, I have encountered my fair share of liars. It is very disconcerting to be lied to, but it is not rare that it happens. While I will avoid the stereotyping game immigration lawyers play in private about the nature of clients from different countries and backgrounds, I can safely say that Muslims do not lie disproportionately. I’ve encountered Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, and atheist liars. The problem is not that certain people are predisposed to lying, but that the stakes are so high for immigrants interacting with the government that people gonna lie. An East Asian, non-Muslim client, characterizing his countrymen, informed me that his people are a “practical people.” When I asked him what that meant, he meant that if necessity requires a lie, then they’ll lie.
The Somali anti-Islamic writer and thinker and former Dutch parliamentarian, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whose message is to encourage Muslims to reform their faith, lied to Dutch immigration officials about her reasons for seeking asylum and was consequently expelled from Holland. Whatever her motives to lie, it was not because of Islam.
Islam is a religion pre-disposed to persecuting others
While again not wanting to enter into a rate-the-persecutory nation competition, Islam has a lot of competition in being the most persecutory nation or faith. The most persecuted people in the world at present may be the Rohingya, a Muslim majority persecuted in Burma – by Buddhists. The Oromo of Ethiopia, half of whom are Muslim, are the persecuted majority in Ethiopia. The modern era’s best persecutors were Christian Germans and whatever-hybrid-religion Japanese. In the Israeli-Palestinian persecution game, it is the primarily-Muslim Palestinians who are the persecutees.
Registering Muslims is a new and necessary means to maintain our national security
How quick people forget America’s early foray into registering Muslims. In 2002 America instituted NSEERS, the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, aka Special Registration. While not called a Muslim registration act, it involved all male non-permanent resident and non-U.S. citizens from the following countries:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Sudan, and Syria. All Muslim countries except for a little North Korean ecumenism.
The program involved requiring all non-immigrant males to register in the United States and to go through special entry and exit procedures requiring entry and departure at only specific entry spots – a limited number of airports, seaports, and land borders. Failing to register rendered one a presumptive terrorist pursuant to INA § 212(a)(3)(A)(ii), which simply stated, is not a good presumption to have leveled against you.
Just like torturing people, another unique policy of the President George W. Bush years, no terrorist was ever exposed by NSEERS. One of the saddest days of my career was the one where I accompanied a Muslim client for special registration. It could have been a scene out of Philip Roth’s, “The Plot Against America.”
Syrians infiltrating the border is a new and dangerous phenomenon
Sporadic reports are now in the media of Syrians crossing into Texas or apprehended in Honduras, as if this proves that terrorists are invading. The fact is that Syrians cannot walk to America from Syria. They can, however, walk from Central America and Mexico. Airlines will not allow people on airplanes to the United States without valid visas. As American consulates will not issue visas to asylum seekers, those intending to seek asylum in the United States either must seek entry with false documents or try to enter or seek asylum at a land border. It happens every day, all the time. Africans, Asians, South and Central Americans, Middle Easterners, Christians, Jews, Muslims, everyone. I represented three young Syrian men in 2003 who surrendered themselves crossing into the country on the U.S. – Mexico border, during our last “the Muslims are invading” panic. I have written letters to immigration officials for asylum seekers to hand to officers at the border requesting asylum. Trying to get into the United States to seek asylum is what people do.
Also, bear in mind that the detention of asylum seekers has a lot to do with where they were caught. Surrendering oneself at a port of entry means you will be detained and could spend months and years detained. See, INA § 235. Making a successful entry into the United States (either legally or illegally) and then applying for asylum usually does not usually result in detention. It is not irrational to want to avoid a prolonged detention when coming to the United States to seek protection. This gives an incentive to illegal entry.
The Cuban-American immigration model is the one asylum-seekers should emulate
The Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act allows Cubans who get to the United States to apply for permanent residence a year after they get here. They do not have to show they were harmed or persecuted in Cuba. They do not need to show they were dissidents. All they have to do is show they are Cuban or married to one or the child of one. A Cuban-American who makes it seem that his forefather(s) entered the right way, if true, wants you to ignore the fact that the game is fixed for Cubans. Giving the false impression that Cubans are following the law – are the good ones – while all the other asylum seekers are the bad ones, is a lie. See, Muslims are liars, supra.
The U.S. is lax in screening refugees
Reports are that those seeking refugee admission to the United States are waiting two years or more for clearances. Iraqis who worked for the Americans as translators and such are routinely denied visas under a program to help these people from being murdered because of their connection to and assistance to America because of vague accusations leveled against them by people who have some animus against them. Asylum, adjustment of status, and naturalization applicants are routinely delayed for years and years because of security concerns. These people are present in the United States and often have permission to travel abroad and return, but still are not granted the benefits they are seeking because of security concerns. If lawmakers were seriously concerned about security issues, they would fund and mandate quick resolution of these cases instead of allowing people to live in the United States for years and years in uncertain statuses because of unresolved security concerns.
It is also worth noting that a person who has used force or violence to change a government, even one the American government wants changed, or is even tangentially involved with such an organization, whether recognized as a terrorist organization or not, is a ground of inadmissibility to the United States under what are called Terrorism-Related Inadmissibility Grounds, TRIG. People who supported allies of the United States in changing a government – like say, the Free Syrian Army or anti-Saddam Hussein militias, often find themselves barred from the United States or removable from the United States. An opponent of Fidel Castro or of his predecessor, Fulgencio Batista, if seeking a benefit today, could be barred because of TRIG. Again, if Congress was serious about security, it would fix this preposterous law and concentrate on finding America’s real enemies.
It is time for serious people to step forward and find serious solutions to serious problems instead of silly people stepping forward to find silly solutions to non-existent problems. I’m not holding my breath. Posted November 22, 2015.