Common sense on Somalis and immigration from John Derbyshire

John Derbyshire, curmudgeon extraordinaire and writer for National Review, ended a blog post on Somalia’s chaos and Somalis with “And for crying out loud, keep them out of our country.”  

Naturally he was taken to task by a reader. Here is his very sensible reply:

An outraged reader:

Mr. Derbyshire — You say “And for crying out loud, keep them out of our country.”

Keep who out? Somalis? But most Somalis are not terrorists. On what grounds can we keep them out?

On the grounds that we can grant, or deny, permission for a foreigner to enter our country, according to what we perceive to be our interests. Otherwise, in what sense is this our country? And in fact we do have procedures for deciding who may, or may not, enter the U.S.A. If a foreigner wants to settle in the U.S.A., the procedures are even longer and more burdensome. I know they are; I’ve been through them. This is at is should be.

If the objection is, that we ought not base this decision on some factor as broad as national origin, I can only say I disagree. We should not let people enter if we have no way of verifying what they tell us about their background and intentions. Somalia has been in a state of utter chaos for decades. We have no effective consular presence there. There is no way we can verify what any aspiring Somali immigrant tells us about himself. Since there are a great many jihadists there — the place is on the point of being taken over by them! — the wisest thing, for our own security, would be to admit no Somalis. What is wrong with this reasoning?

Of course I know that most Somalis are not terrorists. Some Somalis are terrorists, though, and we have utterly no way of distinguishing them from the others. So let’s play safe and keep ’em all out. Again, I don’t see what’s wrong with this. In fact, I think our public discourse has come to a sorry pass when I even have to say the things I just said.

As Ann pointed out last week, our admissions of refugees have increased this year despite the recession, including 2,232 Somalis.

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