Refugees and asylum seekers are to leave the country where they have been personally persecuted and seek asylum in the first safe country in which they arrive, but gradually over time whole classes of people are scooped up as refugees before even leaving their homes.
This is a case for which we have some sympathy (Christians escaping Muslim persecution) but it indeed pushes the envelope and expands the refugee program for whole groups of people—something Sen. Lautenberg has become famous for.
Here is the story from the Associated Press yesterday:
NEWARK, N.J. — A group of Indonesian Christians facing deportation from the United States are hopeful that federal legislation introduced Monday will allow them the chance to reopen their bids for U.S. asylum.
The bill from U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey aims to help a group of Indonesian immigrants who claim to have fled religious persecution by anti-Christian extremists [Muslims–ed] in the majority Muslim nation.
“These Indonesian families sought refuge in our country to keep their families safe from harm and religious persecution,” Lautenberg said. “America has a long history of protecting refugees from persecution and this legislation gives these families a chance to legally seek asylum and to continue contributing to our country.”
The U.S. government allowed hundreds of Indonesian Christians to come to America on tourist visas — most of them between 1996 and 2003 — at a time when more than 1,000 churches were destroyed by anti-Christian extremists [Muslims–ed] during the aftermath of the fall of the regime of longtime dictator Suharto. They settled in communities in New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire and elsewhere. Many of them worked and raised families in the U.S., including several who have American-born children.
In the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, however, immigrant men between the ages of 16 and 65 who had entered the U.S. on temporary visas from predominantly Muslim countries were required to register with the U.S. government or be classified as terrorist fugitives.
Many who registered did not expect to face deportation back to Indonesia, but found themselves in legal limbo as they had surpassed the time limit for applying for U.S. asylum on religious persecution grounds.
Lautenberg’s bill, and companion House legislation co-sponsored by Democratic U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney of New York and Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, would not grant them amnesty, but allow them to re-apply for asylum. [At least this isn’t blanket amnesty!—ed]
Read Thomas Allen at VDARE
An earlier law that has come to be known as the Lautenberg Amendment of 1989 was roundly criticized by Thomas Allen at VDARE in 2002 because it sought (still does!) to give refugee status to anyone from a whole class of people because of their religious affiliation (or what they claim is their religion)—they no longer had to prove they were being personally persecuted, just that they belong to a certain group which greatly expands the law.
The next thing you know the Lautenberg Amendment will be used to bring Rohingya Muslims to the US directly from Burma!
Readers, the Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 has never been reviewed (reauthorized) by Congress, but it’s about time for a full blown Congressional review of the Act rather than to continue with these ad hoc additions to the program. It needs to be reconsidered and reformed now. Besides piecemeal and stealthy changes like Lautenberg’s bills, let’s review whether what we are doing with Malta (and possibly other countries) fits the refugee definition of old.
For new readers, just search for ‘Malta’ here at RRW to see that we are taking Malta’s illegal aliens from Africa off their hands and converting them into refugees for resettlement to the US. True refugees should be granted or denied asylum in Malta—it is the European Unions problem not ours!