Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Does FEE's "Immigration Expert" Understand Immigration?

Apparently not... almost not at all.

David Bier, "immigration expert" for the Niskanen Center and frequent contributor to FEE's "Anything Peaceful" series, has again argued that opposition to unrestricted immigration by "Syrian" refugees "virtually mirrors" opposition to allowing Jews to escape Germany to the U.S. during Nazi times.  This is quite mistaken and confused, as I will point out shortly.

Bier doesn't make much of an argument and spills most of his virtual ink summarizing the history of opposition to Jewish immigration in the late '30's and early 40's.  The gist of his argument is this:

"America’s security fears during World War II led to the rejection of Jews fleeing the Holocaust — and to the remorse that prompted the creation of the refugee process.

Rather than repeat the mistake we promised never to forget, we must learn to address our fears without forgetting our humanity — and this begins by welcoming refugees who want nothing but to build a life of opportunity and peace. ... Yet we have chosen to let people starve, drown, or be murdered in the name of security. Our insecurity has led to callous inhumanity."

Read his entire piece here.

My response:

The "Syrian" refugee crisis is entirely different from the Holocaust in several very important ways.

1. Jewish refugees were escaping from the Third Reich, which intended to kill them. Most "Syrian" refugees are "escaping" from Turkey and other locations other than Syria. Applications for U.S. visas don't even come from Syria -- the Syrian government expelled the U.S. embassy three years ago -- and one cannot apply for a refugee visa from one's home country. So these applicants are NOT under the thumb of ISIS or Assad. These refugees are not facing a holocaust, and many are not even Syrians (hence my use of quotation marks).  Bier seems entirely unaware of this.

2. "We have chosen to let people starve, drown, or be murdered..." is false, since no one is sailing to the U.S. only to be turned away to starve or drown. It is hyperbole designed to inflame passions, not promote rational analysis.

3. Bier claims no refugee has ever *successfully* committed an act of terrorism in the U.S.  It's unclear how he could ever prove such a bold assertion.  I think it is false, but Bier might quibble over who is really a refugee or what constitutes successful  terrorism.  It is not comforting even if true.  Muslim immigrants have certainly been convicted of terror-related jihadist crimes.  The Tsarnaev brothers, the perpetrators of the two of World Trade Center attacks, the numerous Somalis (including refugees) who have been convicted of support for Al Shabab or who have tried to join ISIS. It is sensible to be worried about jihadists.  The U.S. government's primary job (only job, really) is to *protect Americans*, not foreign refugees.  It will be criminal if they admit large numbers of unvetted refugees...especially since they will make us pay for this (point 4).

4. "Syrian" refugees brought into a Western country are settled and supported at taxpayer expense.  In Bier's ideal world, perhaps this would not happen, but in the real world, Germany plans on spending 10 billion euros on "Syrian" refugees this year.  In America, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS) gives refugees financial aid for housing, health care, buying automobiles, cash grants for spending money -- all paid for by U.S. taxpayers (or our Chinese creditors).  That alone is enough reason to oppose on libertarian grounds the admission of large numbers of refugees.

5. Unlike Judaism, most contemporary variants of Islam are overtly political and incompatible with a free society; certainly that's true of Middle Eastern variants.  There's no sensible reason to import, at taxpayer expense, large numbers of people who believe sharia should be the law.

6.  Bier's suggestion, admit more "Syrian" refugees, would simply create incentives for even more such immigration, worsening the crisis.

The plight of the refugees is sad, but Bier's analysis and proposed solution are detached from facts and logic.

If Bier is an "expert," why is he unaware that that the vast majority of these refugees are not coming from Syria, and that many are Afghans, Pakistanis, and even Africans?  Why is he unaware that no one in Syria applies for a refugee visa, so that his story about them being turned down and having to drown escaping the conflict makes no sense?  Why is he unaware that these refugees are settled at taxpayer expense and treated as wards of the state?  Or does he know all this, but omits it because it conflicts with his libertoonist dogma?  Beats me... it's just clear that his argument is full of holes.

I posted this response last night, and it appeared on FEE's site.  By 9:00 AM this morning it had been removed, sent down FEE's version of the memory hole, I guess.  Another commenter, calling her/himself "Observer 98" has also left a thoughtful comment.  I reproduce it here (without permission!) since I assume FEE will soon delete it as well:

Observer98 says:

Millions of refugees from Syria are staying in Lebanon and Jordan so they can return when the fighting is over. Others are engaged in 'country shopping' to find countries with the most benefits to move to. Individuals- men of military age, mostly- looking for benefits in other countries (the majority of whom are NOT from Syria) are not refugees. Muslim immigrants, unlike Jews fleeing the Holocaust, have caused problems in their host countries, agitating for Sharia Law (multiple countries), creating no-go zones (France & UK), not to mention politically incorrect facts such as rape statistics in Sweden. A conquering Medieval political-religious totalitarian 
belief system does not blend well in modern Western countries. Cultures matter. A country should have the right to choose who enters and becomes citizens- perhaps some countries don't want to be ruled by failed Medieval cultures.

Ironically, anti-Semitism is spread by these 'refugees'. Sort of makes a mess of your point, David, if you are championing people who don't believe the Holocaust ever happened.

My response:  Very well said.  And "Cultures matter" is the single most important point in all of this.  The libertoonists and anarchists who believe that we need simply get rid of government and utopia follows are detached from reality.  Islamists, et al. are incapable of sustaining a free society.  It is beyond me why the Bier brothers, Alex Nowrasteh, Chandran Kukathas, Jeffrey Tucker, Bryan Caplan, and other FEE contributors imagine it is a good idea to import indigents who don't speak local language, believe in honor killings and blasphemy laws, and think sharia ought to be the basis of a country's legal system.  I conjecture that they sympathize with the left's hatred of the American state and are so fixated on the state as a source of evil that they have also absorbed the left's multiculturalism.  You'd suppose that if they really are libertarians that once this is pointed out to them they'd backtrack a bit.  But no.  They are libertoonist dogmatists, promoting a religious faith, and it easier to call us "callous and inhuman."   We're sinners against the faith, I guess.

I am trying to research both sides. I do not agree with a site who deletes comments simply just because they respectfully disagree with their ideals. So it makes me wonder why they even bother to ask for comments. I think you are entitled to your opinion and they theirs, but I think both sides go to the extreme on their points.
I agree, Gracie, it makes no sense at all to ask for comments and then delete those that disagree. FEE used to be better than this.

"Our" policy here is to encourage those who disagree to make their case clearly. I even allow them to make guest posts, if they wish. I figure that is the best way to get at the truth and for all of us to learn.

Thanks for your comment.
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