Monday, January 08, 2007

Get Out

According to the Washington Post, we're finally starting to hear some conservative outrage at an administration inadequacy that actual deserves protest. Specifically, the manner in which the Bush administration's hideously overbroad anti-terrorism laws are being used to prevent bona fide refugees from getting asylum in America.
The critics say the administration's interpretation of provisions mandating denial of asylum to individuals who give "material support" to terrorist groups is so broad that foreigners who fought alongside U.S. forces in wars such as Vietnam can be denied asylum on the grounds that they provided aid to terrorists.

Advocates for refugees add that people who were forced to aid terrorist fighters at gunpoint could be labeled as supporters and turned away; such cases include a nurse who was abducted and told to treat a guerrilla fighter in Colombia and a woman in Liberia who said her father was killed and she was raped and forced to stand by as rebels occupied her home for several days.

Sick. Bureaucratic inefficiency is probably a governmental constant, but this administration has expressed so little interest in the innocent people caught in its anti-terrorism net that it is impossible to hold them blameless for this policy catastrophe. There's a reason that even the conservatives protesting candidly admit that any change hinges on leadership from the new Democratic Congress.

The problem reaches it's most distressing in Iraq, where it is nearly impossible for people to gain refugee status--even if they've been working for the US. Being seen working for the occupier is close to a death mark in-country. The ever-worsening situation there prompted George Packer, in a much-read TNR article, to argue that we need to "Save Whomever We Can" on our way out. To do otherwise would be to subject those who already have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom to be brutally slaughtered as the US sits on its hands. Yet the Bush administration, afraid of making a move that would seem to acknowledge our failings in Iraq, has been highly reticent to let fleeing Iraqi into the US. The Baghdad embassy doesn't issue visas (would these be the "diversity visas" Rep. Goode was so angry about?). The number of refugees resettled here is appallingly low--in the low triple-digits. We blame the UN for dragging its feet, but refuse to take independent initiative ourselves.

I believe in preserving American as a beacon of hope for the lowest among us. When we undermine that dream for anyone, we do a disservice to all of us. The fact that our very allies, our brothers and sisters in the battle for democracy, would be abandoned on the field because this administration puts its pride over its principles is simply too much to bear. We can only hope that the new Congress will step in to show leadership where the current President has shown none.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a TNR subscriber, but I assume Packer makes some reference to the American sympathizers in Cambodia, many of whom were unable to get out and were slaughtered by Pol Pot. Then again, in a regime that killed people for having glasses (bourgeois intellectuals), I suppose those with pro-Western sentiment couldn't feel particularly discriminated against.