Time To Cap The Refugee Industry
The town around the United Nations`
Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya—staging ground for the
controversial importation of Somali Bantu into
Middle America—grew from 5,000 in 1990 to 40,000 in
2000. Kenyans from other parts of the country moved in
to take advantage of social services, jobs and trading
opportunities that sprang up around the U.N. camp.
So dependent on U.N. refugee camps are some areas in
Kenya that local residents staged demonstrations last
year to protest closure of one of them.
Worldwide, the U.N. has
officially recognized about 12 million people as
“refugees.” They may well finish up here. Since 1992,
over three-quarters (77%) of the U.N.-recognized
refugees who were resettled permanently in
industrialized countries came to the U.S. (UNHCR,
Vol. 4, Num 129, Jan
2003 – PDF, 1.5 MB).
And, as in Kenya, a refugee industry has grown up
here in the U.S. It forms an “Iron Triangle” exactly
like the Civil Rights Industry`s iron triangle that Hugh
Graham described in
Collision Course, his pathbreaking study of the
of affirmative action and
immigration policy in America”: 1) interest
group; 2) Congressional Committee; 3) federal agency.
The refugee Iron Triangle is also aided by a lawyer
lobby—and a media which is seemingly
incapable of reporting truthfully on the issue.
The Refugee Industry as we know it would end tomorrow
if even one quarter of refugee costs were the
responsibility of its champions.
The largest such champion: the
Roman Catholic Church. As the
Acton Institute`s Father Robert A. Sirico has
demonstrated, Catholic charities have become
addicted to federal money. Money is fungible. Because
the taxpayer pays many of the bills for its
social vision, the Catholic Church has funds to
$1 billion in hush money to
cover up a decades-long sex scandal. (I am afraid
Faith Based Initiative will only expand this
The second-largest refugee resettlement contractor,
in terms of refugees recently resettled in the U.S.:
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Jewish refugee immigration from the
former Soviet Union [FSU] to the U.S. has fallen off
dramatically in recent years. An incredible 500,000 Jews
have come here since the 1980s. But now the FSU is
simply running out of Jews. Also important, Jews leaving
the FSU are now being directed to Israel, instead of
their preferred destinations in the West. They are
needed for Israel`s
The Forward reports (“Community
Questioning `Open Door`“, by Nacha Cattan,
agencies such as the New York Association for New
Americans have seen their refugee budgets halved in the
past three years alone, while the Hebrew Immigrant Aid
Society has openly debated what role Jewish immigration
agencies should play in an era without large numbers of
So what “role” does the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
decide to play? It opens a satellite office in
Nairobi Kenya—where it will most certainly be
African Muslim refugee immigration to the U.S.
(About 50% of today`s
UNHCR refugees are from Muslim countries, not
including Palestinians who are counted on the books of
another UN refugee agency, UNRWA.)
This may seem paradoxical, given Jewish
concerns about the
growing Muslim population in the U.S. But
Leonard Glickman, president and CEO of HIAS and formerly
a spokesman for the U.S. Federal Office of Refugee
Resettlement, told the Forward`s Cattan:
"The more diverse
American society is the safer [Jews] are."
Refugee admissions to the U.S.
declined sharply in 2002 as a result of 9/11. But
most experts expect this decline will be temporary. A
suggestion to temporarily “re-program” federal money
domestic resettlement agencies to refugee assistance
programs overseas—where funds are quite literally
hundreds of times more effective—was angrily denounced
by those resettlement contractors at a January 2002
meeting with State Department officials.
The State Department capitulated. It kept funding at
the previous year`s level—even though the contractors
were dealing with less than half the refugee caseload.
Additionally, State agreed to allow the refugee
contractors a more influential role in picking refugees
for admission to the U.S.
Make that an Iron Triangle of interest group,
Congressional Committee and weak federal agency.
Remember this when advocates for higher refugee
admissions start talking about the “indivisibility of
humankind” or of refugees as a “borderless” problem—and
thus a matter of collective international
These American refugee advocates chose to steal the
paltry food rations from overseas refugee camps to
preserve their cushy D.C. jobs.
The Refugee Industry has also spawned a new academic
“Refugee Studies.” Some of its ideologists are
demanding an international
“rights-based regime,” under which individuals
officially designated as refugees by the U.N. would
never be confined to a camp, but automatically allowed
to settle wherever they wish.
This may seem a distant dream today. But there is
serious discussion about creating an international
clearing house which assigns refugees more or less
automatically to host countries based on a formula which
weighs host country GDP, population density and other
measures of stability and wealth.
The more successful the country, the larger will be
its per capita refugee quota.
Guess what that means?
This is not to minimize the
suffering of refugees. Nor to say the U.S. should
not participate in helping find solutions.
But the U.S. is already the largest single
contributor to U.N. refugee work. It pays about a
quarter of the budget for the UNHCR and UNRWA.
And the U.S. could fully fund 10 UNHCRs with what it
spends on resettlement of refugees in the U.S.,
including their ongoing welfare costs.
Personally, I can accept that it might be appropriate
to resettle some refugees in America. But before any New
World Order refugee resettlement regime takes form, the
U.S. should re-visit legislation capping refugee
Currently, the refugee quota is set each year by the
Administration in consultation with Congress and various
interest groups. It is a tempting prize to hand out in
exchange for political support.
A legislated cap, say to 25,000 a year, would reduce
the value of the quota as a political tool. It would
also free up more resources for refugee assistance
overseas. Granted, overseas aid too can be politicized,
as can the very designation of who the U.S. should
regard as a “refugee.” But at least overseas refugee
programs would not result in the displacement and
dispossession of Americans in their own home towns.
An admissions cap was considered at the time of the
original 1980 Refugee Act. The idea has been discussed
from time to time since then. This may be the last
chance. U.S. foreign policy increasingly converges with
global human rights agenda—part of which has always
called for a permanent high-volume flow of refugees to
In the wake of 9-11, there would be considerable
popular support for an admissions cap—if it were to be
openly and honestly debated.
We know who would oppose any such debate—and now we