Asylum is meant to be granted to a very small number of people in extreme circumstances, not as a substitute for the process of immigration itself. Yet, the two have gotten mixed up. It’s also clear that the rules surrounding asylum are vague, lax and being gamed.
Fareed Zakaria is no fan of President Trump. Far from it! In fact, his knee-jerk negativity when it comes to the President has caused me to have to revise my former appreciation for him as that rare bird: a thoughtful, objective, and reasonable political commentator. He is, however, square on in this; and his antipathy to the President makes his comments all the more arresting.
I think a lot of our chaos where immigration is concerned has to do with a lack of understanding (or in some cases, I fear, intentional misrepresentation) of what “asylum” actually is. As originally conceptualized and expressed in international law, in the aftermath of WW II and the Holocaust, it was intended “to protect those who are fleeing regimes where they would be killed our imprisoned because of their identity or beliefs.” However, Zakaria notes, “This standard has gotten broader and broader over the years”:
“Since 2014, the flow of asylum seekers into the United States has skyrocketed. Last year, immigration courts received 162,000 asylum claims. A 240 percent increase from 2014. The result is a staggering backlog with more than 300,000 asylum cases pending and the average immigration case has been pending for more than 700 days.
“It’s also clear that the rules surrounding asylum are vague, lax and being gamed… Some applicants for asylum have suspiciously similar stories using identical phrases. Many simply use the system to enter the U.S. and then melt into the shadows or gain a work permit while their application is pending.”
The asylum system was never intended to be a work-around for “the ordinary process of immigration itself,” for people who may be having a fairly rough life in their home countries, and who think the US is the land of milk and honey, where all their problems will be solved. News flash: there are a lot of people living, and in many cases born, in the United States (some to families who have been here for generations, others who have emigrated legally in more recent years), who are having a fairly rough life here.
If this ever was the land of milk and honey, it is so no more; and it is not unreasonable that we should want to take care of our own people first, before importing additional people, and additional problems, into the mix. (And if it ever was the land of milk and honey, it was so because we enjoyed a population that was relatively small, compared to our resource base. That is certainly not the case, any more!)
People may, arguably, have a right to asylum if they are in imminent danger to life and limb due to their ethnicity or beliefs – at least, the UN says they do, and the US is signatory to the relevant documents. But they do not have a right to emigrate into a country – any country – simply to improve their lot in life, or to treat the asylum system in the U.S. as what Zakaria accurately calls “a backdoor, bypassing the normal immigration process.”
Or rather, people may seek to migrate with the intention of bettering themselves, but the countries they wish to enter have a right to decline, to protect their own people, economy, ecology, standard of living, and the customs, culture, and traditions of their existing society. No one has the right to simply impose themselves on someone else, unwanted, and expect them to simply take it, as a matter of course.
As the old saying goes, “your right to swing your fist stops at my nose.”
Zakaria is absolute correct: the system is broken, and in need of correction and reconfiguration, with clear standards of what constitutes a legitimate asylum request, and clear lines of demarcation between asylum and immigration – and, I would argue, with the clearly expressed premise that asylum will be granted to relatively few, and only those most clearly at risk; while immigration will be controlled on the basis of our needs, and what the would-be immigrants can offer us, not the other way ’round.
[Many countries require of would-be immigrants that they be able to support themselves economically, for instance, so that they are a benefit to and not a drain on the host society. That seems far from unreasonable.]
“Diversity,” in and of itself, should in any case not be a criteria for admission, in the absence of specific skills, abilities, knowledge, resources, or other clear and positive benefits of admitting that particular person. We are more than diverse enough, as a culture, already, even if one accepts the premise that diversity is an inherent good on its own; we don’t need more of it, and certainly not for its own sake.
[If anything – given the history of the last few decades, when we have seen ever-increasing diversity, and also ever-increasing societal fragmentation and social chaos – a bit more homogeneity, unity, and stability might be beneficial!]
At any rate, those who claim that there is no crisis are certainly wrong; and Zakaria is certainly right that “a much larger fix is needed.” The President and his administration are at least trying to fix the problem. All the Democrats can do is vow to open the borders still further, increasing rather than decreasing the crisis.
We need better than that, or I greatly fear what the next few years or decades may bring: either complete chaos as we are overrun, or a violent backlash that must be laid solely at the feet of the Democrats and their Left-wing fellow-travelers, who seek to exploit the immigration crisis for their own political benefit.