I have been having extensive email conversations about immigration with ProFlandria, one of our Flemish correspondents.
One of the topics concerns the possibility that Vlaams Belang might favor giving priority to Christian refugees from the Third World, to help compensate for the preference shown so far in Europe for Muslim immigrants.
Many Christian refugees are fleeing for their lives from Muslim countries. One of the unfortunate side effects of the Iraq war has been to increase the persecution of the Christian minority by the Muslim majority, now that the inhibiting hand of the tyrant has been removed from the shoulders of religious zealots. Other Islamic countries, such as Lebanon, Pakistan, and India, are undergoing a drastic reduction in their Christian populations.
Why not give Christians who are escaping from Islam a place at the front of the refugee queue?
Christian immigrants, even from such countries as Nigeria or Pakistan, would be much more likely to assimilate fully and pursue gainful employment in the West than their Muslim counterparts. There is a political advantage to be gained here, since anyone who favors giving them preference could not reasonably be termed a “racist” or a “neo-Nazi”.
Western society would benefit from a modest influx of such people, assuming that Muslim immigration could be simultaneously reduced.
ProFlandria sent us an email last night giving his assessment of the situation, and noting the pernicious role that the UN plays in the refugee industry:
This article by Jerry Gordon in The New English Review relates directly to your idea on favoring immigration from persecuted Christian communities:
Since 1976, more than 2.6 million new citizens have entered America as legal humanitarian refugees according to reports of the US State Department.
The irony is the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) determines which of the world’s huddled masses comes to the US as humanitarian refugees. UNHCR trends for 2006 indicate that worldwide there were more than 32.9 million ‘persons of concern’ with approximately one third defined as ‘refugees’. […]
[T]he untoward consequence of UN control over the humanitarian refugee program in the US is discrimination against groups like the imperiled half million Christians who have fled Iraq.
More concerning is that the UN control of humanitarian refugee processing has introduced Jihadis among the Somalis from the Horn of Africa, who now number in the tens of thousands throughout America. The Somalis have brought with them strict Islamic Sharia values that violate our Constitution and Civil Rights laws and mock our Judeo Christian values. Still worse, they, and some other refugee groups, have brought with them undetected contagious diseases like TB, Hepatitis and HIV that evaded health screening prior to their entry to America.
The Somali immigrants are a significant proportion of those included in the humanitarian refugee program for Africa. For the Federal Fiscal year ended, September 30, 2007, according to information from the ORR, 7, 500 Somalis entered this country out of a total of 17,000 such refugees allotted to Africa. The aggregate total of Somali refugees as of 2005 was close to 70,000. Given figures for both 2006 and 2007, the current aggregate may approximate 90,000. The concern is what proportion of these received proper medical and security screening before entering this country.
This has caused disruptions in both large and small communities through America. Communities like Minneapolis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Nashville, Emporia, Kansas, Lewiston, Maine and Shelbyville, Tennessee.
These disruptions occurred in American heartland communities as a by-product of conscious refugee policies adopted during the Clinton administration and in a number of instances, local business community interests that took advantage of the change.
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In late November, a delegation that included former South Carolina Governor Beasley, William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition, Dr. Keith Roderick, Washington Representative of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), journalist, author and human rights activist Kenneth Timmerman met with Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, head of the BPRM and her staff about the Iraqi refugee crisis. They reported on their recent fact-finding mission in Jordan and other Middle East locations. What they got was a polite reception and no support to correct the current UNHCR refugee certification effort in the region that discriminates against Iraqi Christians.
According to Dr. Keith Roderick of Christian CSI, Iraqi Christian refugees, even those who would be classified under our Humanitarian Refugee guidelines as Extremely Vulnerable Persons (EVP), are being directed to UNHCR Offices in Amman, Jordan. They are entrapped in a long bureaucratic process. Many have reported that they are discriminated against, files are lost and stories that substantiate their profound fear of persecution including death threats are dismissed. The US Embassy in Amman is virtually impenetrable with Jordanian guards at the initial point of contact for refugees. They are all directed to UNHCR offices, even when they could take advantage of the Direct Access Program or Immigration P-2 Visas for family reunification.
The UNCHR receives tens of millions in compensation from our government for this processing function.
As Ken Timmerman writes in a NewsMax.com article, “Iraq Christian Refugees Ignored by U.N.” on the plight of Iraqi Christian translators, very few of the 500 translators and US Embassy workers eligible to receive emergency relocation have been certified under a Congressional mandate for those facing death threats. This, despite the fact that they had brought with them letters of appreciation from US commanders and the US Embassy in Baghdad. They were not allowed to present them. Why? Because local UNHCR workers discovered that they were Christians and would not process them.
I asked Dr. Roderick what could be done. He indicated that the clearance procedures for these Iraqi Christians who are considered ‘Extremely Vulnerable Persons’ under our humanitarian refugee rules have a problem with the CIS roving teams. The CIS procedures require these Christian applicants to bring evidence of bank records and property deeds. Having fled death threats from both Iraqi Sunni and Shia insurgent groups, these documents are virtually impossible to obtain.
I asked Dr. Roderick what he would recommend.
He indicated that CIS should waive these onerous requirements in lieu of the US Embassy and US commander letters documenting their valued service to America in Iraq. He suggested that perhaps the solution might be in the form of executive waivers and/or Congressional resolutions and legislative amendments. The other possible solution is to create administrative units or provinces for Iraqi Christian minorities in their ancestral homelands on the Nineveh Plain. These administrative units would provide local policing and security for their villages and economic development.
Apparently UNHCR serves as the clearing house for refugees worldwide, with the authority to determine how many from each specific group go to which destination. I would imagine that these determinations are based at least in part on negotiations with the host countries; if so, then a re-negotiation of the terms of refugee immigration would be the first step. That does not address the lack of proper vetting of refugee status, which is apparently also UNHCR’s purview.
As far as Vlaams Belang’s (and other European conservative/counter-jihad parties’) options are concerned, immigration is nominally still a national competency but that will change as soon as the Lisbon Treaty is ratified. I don’t think there is any credible leverage to be applied when national governments have the option of dumping any proposals in the slow-moving machinery of bureaucracy with the hope that the Treaty will be ratified before action is required.
Given the EU’s anti-American stance, the preference will likely be to continue with lopsided proportions of Muslim immigration to reflect the victimhood status resulting from US intervention. In addition, in the postmodern worldview Christianity has the status of an “oppressor” faith, which is not likely to endear its refugee faithful to the current crop of governing elites.
The most Vlaams Belang could hope for is to have a duly recorded proposal “on file”. However, the problem is that the political reality will preclude concrete action. VB’s opponents can therefore spin such a proposal as a cynical attempt to appear “multicultural” while knowing full well that the chance of the proposal becoming reality are exactly zero.