Do you get the feeling that the refugee program isn’t a national security risk, but aren’t sure what to say?
|(Portrait of Anne Frank, age 12, learning at the Montessori school in Amsterdam.)
-Courtesy Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
In 1941 the Frank family applied to flee the Nazis to the United States. Instead, US Consular Service Chief Wilbur Carr reported to Congress that refugees of the war in Europe were “filthy, un-American, and often dangerous in their habits…lacking any conception of patriotism or national spirit.” As a result of this fear-based response, the refugee child Anne Frank was turned away by the American people.
She died at the hands of the murderous Nazi regime.
in Refugee Resettlement
As the American government pursues solutions to keep our nation safe and secure, it should look to the US Refugee Resettlement Program as its paragon. Rather than being a security risk, it is the very model of an immigration system that works, and has done so for a long time.
The facts are irrefutable. There are many kinds of immigration today (tech visas, undocumented, asylum seekers, tourism, etc), and much brokenness in all those systems. No one vetted through the existing refugee program has ever committed a lethal terrorist act in the US, since it was built in 1980. The Boston Bombers came on tourism visas, the San Bernardino terrorist on a fiancee visa, the list goes on. Simply put: the refugee program is not broken; it is a model for safety, security and success.
Migrants who have crossed into Europe are not eligible to ever become refugees in America. These are completely separate systems. But the refugee program in particular is fantastically successful and it is a wise choice to support it if we want a safe and secure nation. Safety and Compassion are working hand-in-hand here!
Here are a few things to consider about the US refugee resettlement system as it exists today:
- The refugee resettlement program is the least likely avenue for a terrorist to choose to enter the US. Of the nearly one million refugees accepted for resettlement since September 11, 2001, fewer than a ten have gotten in serious trouble with the law over links to terrorism. National security professionals labor daily to improve the process. Are Refugees a Threat?
- World Relief’s CEO Tim Breem wisely notes that “We live in a dangerous world and it is right that we take security seriously. The American people are rightly asking for transparency on the measures taken to safeguard our homeland. However, World Relief does not believe compassion and security have to be mutually exclusive. While it is wise to always work to increase effectiveness, a lengthy and complete ban is not necessary to meet our commitment to security, transparency and compassion.” Here’s just the non-classified parts of the refugee vetting process:
- History reminds us that refugees are an economic boon to our nation for generations to come, and are even a net economic gain to the economy short term. They’re less likely to become violent criminals and more likely to build a job creating business. Refugees are blessings, not burdens. That is part of why we are called to welcome them, to be blessed!
Our partners at World Relief put it very well: “Throughout the Bible, we are repeatedly told that God loves and cares for foreigners, and that he expects his people to do so. Also, Jesus himself was a refugee, forced to flee the genocidal government of King Herod, and He says that when we welcome a stranger, we welcome Him. ‘The Lord watches over the foreigner, and sustains the fatherless and the widow’ (Psalm 146:9 NIV). Refugees are uniquely vulnerable individuals who have fled persecution. Our Biblical faith compels us to respond to their plight with compassion and hospitality.”
When we are friends to refugees, we are not only doing good, we are actively creating the safety and national security we desire.
In short, we agree wholeheartedly with the assertion that no one who poses a danger to the safety of a community should be given refugee status. But we also argue that the professional law-enforcement officials and our federal security and intelligence officials have created a refugee resettlement protocol in the United States that comprises the most secure vetting process in history. It does effectively ensure that only those truly vulnerable and at risk are welcomed. With the system as it stands, and the continuous improvements our intelligence professionals deliver, it will continue to do a sound job of preventing access to our communities by those who wish it harm.
Our president wants citizens to know he values security and safety. We want that too, and so should everyone. But we also know from facts and performance, that our state and national security officials are delivering on that security. And while we welcome further improvements to that system, suspending it is unnecessary to do so. There are many ways to be competent in our compassion, but that pursuit must be from a heart that, with total integrity, seeks the best for refugees and our communities together; to that we are committed. That is what God requires of us as his followers.
Let God’s Word be the source of a sound theology of immigration. Here’s a link to a toolkit with 40 verses on the subject.
If this knowledge has been valuable to you, will you share it with a friend or someone of influence? There is a lot of confusion about the refugee program, and you can be part of sharing the story of what makes communities flourish.