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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Syrian Refugees

I'm tired of the politicizing of a world humanitarian crisis. The refugees have no homes, and they have terrorism within the countries they flee. They wouldn't leave if they wouldn't have to. Do terrorists infiltrate? Of course they do, but it's not like we don't have that already within our country. We do.

I'm tired of Democrats and Republicans waging battle in a knee-jerk reaction. If there ever was an issue we should all agree on, that issue is this one. Besides, divisiveness doesn't breed unity for the citizens of this country, or the world, and never will.

I appreciated this Facebook Post by a friend, who shared a post by an immigration lawyer. It turns out that most of American's panic over refugees is misplaced.

A few facts anyone?
Scott Hicks
Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you wantactual information about the process, keep reading.
I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.
The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.
First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.
Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.
We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.
First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.
Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.
Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.
The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.
At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.
Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.
Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.
Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.
This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.
The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.
Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.
Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)
Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The 2016 presidential races

It's a red-letter day: I feel like writing about politics again! I don't visit many news sites these days, but even I can't help feeling at least a passing interest in the circus we're calling the GOP candidacy.

The GOP candidates disappoint me, for the most part. Trump is a pompous old windbag who has absolutely no chance in you know what of winning the presidency, even if by some unfortunate turn of events he were to win the nomination. Please, GOP base, be smarter than that. He's full of himself and doesn't listen to anyone and I'd say we've had enough of that kind of president after the past nearly 8 years, wouldn't you?

I note with interest that the front runners to this point aren't career politicians: Trump has never held office, and neither has Ben Carson. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is getting lots of attention for the same reason: he didn't set out to be a career politician: he just saw a need and stepped in.

I'm okay with Ben Carson. The man has absolutely no experience leading much of anything, but he knows it. He's humble enough to surround himself with good advisers and wise enough to listen to them. That's what I'd love to see in a president of the United States. I don't know how much of a chance he has in winning the nomination, but I'd vote for him. Just about my only criteria these days is that the people I vote for be genuinely good people who have the best interests of the country at heart, and not their own glory or agenda.

That's also why I'm okay with Mitt Romney jumping back in. Sure, he may be a moderate, but he's a good man and I trust him to lead the country well.

The only career politician currently in the race that I'd be willing to vote for is Ted Cruz. I've always liked him: he's got an air of sincerity around him, the likes of which we don't often see around politicians.

As far as the presidency goes, I'd vote for Bernie Sanders, should he win the Democratic nomination, over Trump or any Republican besides Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, or Mitt Romney. I think he'd do a better job of keeping the interests of the country at heart than those other Republicans, socialist or not.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


You guys!

I know it has been a million years since I last posted, but I just gotta share something great. We have moved to New Hampshire since the time I last posted, and I voted this morning. The polls were packed yet orderly and efficient, and required voter ID!

No one protested. No one made a fuss. Everyone seemed happy to show ID to establish the validity of their vote. We showed ID and had our names checked on entry, and then upon exit had our names crossed off a similar list: they tracked both entry and exit. I daresay the people New Hampshire are happy to deter voter fraud by these checks. Which didn't add any time worth mentioning, and in the case of check-in the ID actually made the process faster because the worker already had our names visible in hand rather than having to ask about spelling, etc.

And has anyone else noticed The Oddities of Election Year Gasoline Prices besides myself?

Happy Voting!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tips in navigating the system

I found a most practical article yesterday, detailing options that average Americans are not aware of as they consider health care options. It is written by a doctor, who contributes to Breitbart.

Here are the headings, but read the details using this link to Eight Ways to Opt Out of Obamacare. I'll hazard a guess that you, like the average Americans including myself, are not aware of all these options let alone what they mean.

1. Join a health care sharing ministry
2. Purchase a short-term health insurance policy
3. Buy alternative insurance plans
4. Visit cash-only doctors and retail health clinics for primary care.
5. Sign up for a telemedicine service
6. Use generic prescription drugs whenever possible, and compare prices between pharmacies.
7. For surgery, Parnell recommends going to a facility that offers up-front “package” prices for self-pay patients
8. When a hospital visit becomes necessary, Parnell suggests working with amedical bill negotiation service

Relevant Drudge headlines:

New ObamaCare fees coming in 2014...
'After Month of Trying, I Still Can't Sign Up'...
Ads hit vulnerable Dems...
Confusion grows...

Deadlines Slipping...
KRISTOL: Gift keeps giving...
Hospitals Seek Savings as Mental Health Costs Soar...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Obamacare Exposed!

Charles Krauthammer wrote an excellent article explaining in detail what Obamacare is and does. I knew all these things myself, but he does the topic justice. I found his column here. I wish I could copy and paste the entire thing because I literally can't cut any of it out for you - it's that important. Please use the link.