Earlier this month, the Obama administration released new guidelines regarding refugees seeking asylum. It was met by the usual push-back from the organized nativist movement. Anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups claim their vigilance is in the interest of national security and exposing executive overreach, their true intent is to further their own agenda.
The new rules give exemptions to refugees who have provided “limited material support” to terrorist organizations. This includes those who were pressured into giving material support or provided humanitarian aid such as meals or medical care. The changes are intended to ensure those seeking asylum that had no other option but to aid these groups are not punished. The new measure will specifically benefit displaced Syrians who were initially restricted from entering the United States under the previous guidelines.
The administration explained those seeking asylum will still be subjected to lengthy background checks and individuals will be admitted on a case-to-case basis. However, this seemingly humanitarian adjustment to an already strident application process was enough to set off anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists and anti-immigrant groups alike.
Anti-Muslim bloggers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller took to their respective websites to respond to the new policy. Spencer sardonically asked what could go wrong when “the new neighbors are wearing ski masks” and “waving around AK-47s.” Geller saw this as just another example of Obama supporting the “jihad force.” In the anti-immigrant circle, FAIR’s President Dan Stein was quoted in a Fox News column where he claimed this was the president plotting to use his executive power to maximize the number of people being admitted into the country.
Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) said she believed this to be another way for individuals to exploit the system. “The administration already approves of the admission of gang members as asylees and criminals in the DACA program,” she told The Daily Caller, “so I don’t expect them to be troubled by the admission of terrorists and garden variety fraudsters in our refugee program.” Vaughan’s comments about asylum fraud speak of a greater effort by CIS to twist refugee programs in order to restrict immigration.
CIS recently dispatched representatives to a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week entitled, “Asylum Fraud: Abusing America’s Compassion?” One of the panelists included CIS board member Jan Ting, who warned that undocumented citizens were exploiting the refugee program to gain citizenship. Aside from his association with CIS, Ting’s credibility is questionable in light of his involvement with anti-immigrant hardliners at the Americans4Work symposium last November.
The HJC subcommittee also included Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who used his allotted time to feed questions to Ting. King also made a point to go on record and cite a report released by CIS. CIS’s materials shouldn’t hold any merit at a congressional hearing considering the group’s ties to white nationalist John Tanton.
The organized nativist movement’s ongoing effort to deny asylum to those in need underscores these groups’ true intentions, and shows why they should have no influence over such policies.