For our readers at the State Department. You really should come up with some sort of easy-to-access blog or other site for refugees who are waiting to come to the US (and have access to computers). They are sending questions to us about what they might expect when they get to America—what sort of housing and jobs they will have, etc. Some even send us their case numbers. Aren’t they given that sort of information in addition to contact information if they have other questions?
I really shouldn’t be writing on this topic because I don’t understand it myself. It’s the material support of terrorism ban and it’s a hot topic in immigration law circles. The gist of it is (I think) that anyone who has given support to a “terrorist” group, even if they are forced to do so or it’s terrorism we like, is banned from the refugee program. The flow of Burmese Karen to the US began in earnest when Secretary of State Rice removed the ban in their case. We determined that their “terrorist” activities were acts of the good guys against the Burmese bad guys.
Then at the end of last year, Congress passed a law that was hailed by refugee advocates as a breakthrough and would thus allow more refugees who had some (good) “terrorist” connections to enter the US.
Now it appears we are sending some refugees back, if this piece in Findlaw is accurate—apparently even if they worked against Saddam Hussein in the 1990’s or they fought the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Since the December amendments to the immigration laws, a number of refugees have received letters from the Department of Homeland Security informing them that they are being denied permanent residence in the United States because of facts that they stated on their applications for refugee status.
Doug Bandow (a conservative columnist, I think), jumps on the bandwagon too here and criticizes Homeland Security for being “stupid.” However, since Bandow doesn’t say much more than to post the Findlaw article, I bet he doesn’t get it either.
Inspite of my admitted ignorance of the facts on this issue, I come down on the side of Homeland Security. In light of the Bush Administration’s love of refugees, I doubt we would send people back frivolously (if we even are!).