By John F. Di Leo -
In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about “vetting” people coming in from the Middle East. In fact, however, it’s a much broader issue than that: it’s a need to vet people who come into the USA from anywhere.
While any risk can theoretically originate anywhere, statistically, each region has different primary risks.
From some countries, it’s a human trafficking and prostitution risk; from others, it’s a drug trade and organized crime risk. But of course the one most in the news is the terrorism risk, which originates primarily in muslim-majority countries (like the middle east) and in muslim pass-through points like Europe.
This is not to say that all people from Syria – for example – are evildoers, or that all muslims – for example – are evildoers. But when you look at statistics, it is undeniable that a higher percentage of travelers from Syria will be evildoers than, say, travelers from Lichtenstein, Ireland, or Greenland… and that a higher percentage of a muslim population will pose a threat than, say, a similar population of Amish or Bahai’is.
Contrary to the alarmists and the professional racebaiters of the MainStream Media and the Democratic Party, there is nothing racist or un-American about stating the above facts. They are just facts.
Who Wants to Enter?
The USA allows people into the United States for numerous reasons – as students, as business travelers, as diplomats, as tourists, as refugees, as immigrants. We are one of the world’s primary destinations for all of these purposes, so our government must have processes – somewhat different for each – to handle such matters.
This keeps the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security very busy… hopefully doing it well enough that it does not keep the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services busy afterward.
This process must take into account – at minimum – the following three key issues:
- The safety of the population of the United States,
- The economic and cultural effect of their visit or immigration on the United States,
- Fairness to other applicants.
In short, we must not allow people in who are likely to endanger people already here; we must not further water down the unique and wonderful cultural heritage with which our Founding Fathers endowed us; we must resist importing workers to compete with our own jobless, or indigents who will place a further burden on the US taxpayer… and we must not reward gate-crashers over foreign applicants who have been patiently waiting for a spot for years, while obeying the immigration rules.
These are all complex matters. Each one deserves its own thoughtful discussion and analysis in the public square.
For example, we should clearly not allow a US factory to import a thousand workers from the third world to displace American employees, but we clearly should allow that factory to transfer an engineering manager from here to its China factory and to bring back a production manager from the China factory to this one in a swap. How do we draw the line that properly stops the unfair displacement while fairly allowing the latter transfer?
Our retail and tourism industry – from restaurants and hotels to shopping malls and theater districts – depends on visitors from far-off lands. Our state colleges depend on wealthy foreign students who pay full tuition to offset the discounts for in-state attendees. How do we welcome in the beneficial tourists and students, while keeping out the invaders, the terrorists, and other hostiles?
None of this is as easy as we would like it to be, but one thing is certain: during the past eight years, the wrong calls were made, again and again, at both the micro and macro level, leaving our country with far more dangers from coast to coast than there were when Mr. Obama took office (and these situations were far from ideal even then; some of these problems have been festering for generations).
The Vetting Process
So the news of the day is on the vetting process. We need to tackle the above questions eventually, and that will take time… but first, the new administration began, as it had to, an executive order to start the process… a process that will take a national debate, and both Departmental and Congressional action, to complete.
In the meantime, let’s vet who’s already on the way, who’s already applied, who’s already hoping to come in, whether for any of the above reasons or for others.
So let’s talk about this “vetting.”
We use the term a lot, but we don’t go into it in detail: Gentle reader, do we really know how to "vet" people? Have we thought about it?
When we "vet" a presidential appointee, such as for a cabinet post or judgeship, what do we evaluate?
We look at his published writings, his academic background, his dating and marital history, his employment history, his social media footprint, and his legislative record if he’s held elective office before. If he’s been a judge already, we look at his past opinions. And (if there is one!) we check out his criminal record. That’s proper vetting. That’s what the term means.
When we "vet" a potential immigrant, we should do the exact same thing. That's just what "vetting" is.
We should look at his academic and work background, his published writings, his criminal record, his social media footprint.
And if we're vetting a potential immigrant from the developed world - an engineer from Japan, an entrepreneur from Switzerland, a scientist from South Korea, a singer from France – then we can do exactly that. In the developed world, such records are all available for review. You may still miss something, of course, but at least there’s a good chance that you can get a full picture of a person, in the developed world.
Now, this is a lot of work for our State Department to manage; it’s not the sort of thing that’s easily or inexpensively done for the millions of people applying for travel visas, work visas, refugee status and immigration… but if we want to be able to say that we are vetting people, there are no two ways about it: either they’re vetted as described above, or they’re not vetted.
So now let’s talk about the challenges of trying to vet a destitute refugee or other potential immigrant from the third world - particularly from a dangerous war zone or enemy territory such as the Middle East. Frankly, all this is usually impossible.
You simply can't collect academic records, criminal records, employment records, and social media records from people who don't have any.
You think we have a lot of common names in the United States, like John Smith and James Jones? That’s nothing, compared to the Middle East, where there are tens of thousands of men named Mohamed Mahmoud and Mahmoud Mohamed, all of whom went to the various madrassahs of Iraq and Jordan and Syria and Egypt and Lebanon. Some of them are good, decent people, hoping to make a new and better life in the United States. Some of them are not.
What were many of these refugees taught in most of those “schools?” How to read the koran, how to hate Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and Bahai’is. How sharia law is applied and implemented. Sometimes even how to make bombs.
Not all of them, of course… but some. Maybe even many. From some regions, most.
And if you think you can tell one from another in a refugee line comprised of 100,000 people, 90,000 of whom are young men of military age, you're sadly mistaken.
You just can't vet the vast majority of these so-called refugees with any hope for certainty. It's not possible.
In the big cities, sometimes, it can be done. There are educated, accomplished people with western degrees and credit scores and home ownership records, in Dubai and Jeddah and Cairo and Tripoli… and our embassies can study their records and perhaps determine whether such applicants are desirable or not, perhaps not with absolute certainty, but at least, with some degree of confidence.
If someone went to college, worked for a multinational firm, owns a computer and goes on Facebook … and never posts anything dangerous, he will get a clean bill of health in the vetting process. And that clean bill of health might be deserved.
On the other hand… if someone lived in a remote village, never had a job other than working on his family farm, and never had a computer so he never posted anything on social media… then it should be obvious that he cannot be vetted at all, nor can any of the thousands of other denizens of his village or clan.
He may deserve our compassion and prayers. He may be well-intentioned. He may not hold any desire to do us harm. But we simply have no way of knowing. And the risk to other Americans, if he is among the jihadist minority, or even just among the sharia-supporting majority, is a potentially lethal risk. Yes, lethal.
Those who hope to reach the point at which our vetting system is perfect are living in a dreamland. A researcher requires data to perform research, and for billions of people on earth, there simply is no data to study.
This is the problem at the core of our debate, on immigration, on travel and work visas, and especially on the question of refugees. How do we know, with any safety, who poses a danger and who does not? There is a limit to how much we can accomplish, even with the most robust vetting process.
We don’t need to import dangers on purpose; we have enough home-grown dangers already.
And this goes double for immigration, particularly for “refugees” from hotbeds of islamofascist/jihadist philosophy. No sane country knowingly imports the citizens of an enemy country or movement while at war with them. The entire concept is just stark raving madness.
Copyright 2017 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based writer, actor, and trade compliance trainer. He served as chairman of Chicago’s Ethnic American Council during President Reagan’s second term, a group that worked to bring anti-communist freedom fighters from captive nations to America on speaking tours, so he knows the importance of bringing the right people to America… and also the dangers of bringing in the wrong ones… because those captive nations only became captive when Soviet and Cuban infiltrators arrived to foment revolution in the first place.
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