tv Niskanen Center Discussion on Refugee Resettlement Programs- Panel 1 CSPAN October 4, 2018 6:51pm-8:01pm EDT
geraldine brooks and her guest on in-depth fiction addition, our live:program at sunday -- on sunday and noon eastern. her other novels include march, caleb's crossing, people of the book and the year of wonders. watch in-depth with geraldine brooks, live sunday from noon-3 pm eastern on book tv. and be sure to watch it next month with jodi pico. and brad meltzer in december. on book tv, c-span 2. c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television company. and today, we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the
supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. good morning and welcome, i am a senior vice president with the -- center, it is a public policy think tank networks to advance policy and politics animated by the spirit of moderation which as i am sure you can acknowledge given the current state of american politics can often be a challenge. is important and we are deeply committed to an open, democratic society that requires political compromise, respectable pluralism and resistance to ideological extremism. we work with policymakers and
staff to formulate and promote clear eyed, based policy solutions that are innovative, salable and most important, improve the lives of real people. i would like to start by sinking -- thinking -- office, senator langford has been an apartment republican voice and has highlighted the critical roles that our admissions programs play in american national security. we appreciate his leadership and hope to continue working with the office. i would also like to thank the cosponsors, including the national immigration forum, human rights first, international refugee assistance project and the conference of catholic bishops migration and refugee services. bayer -- their work is critical to keeping our refugee resettlement program afloat during these difficult times. i would like to thank the experts on today's panel, in particular, professor stallone
who offered this paper that was recently released and is the topic of our conversation today. and of course i would like to thank all of you for being here and join in the conversation that i am confident will give us a better understanding of the strategic imperative of the refugee resettlement process. for me this is a bit of a personal issue. more than a decade ago i served in iraq as a sergeant in the u.s. army national guard. having served overseas alongside iraqis working as translators and interpreters and working in the violence, ensuring we would provide safe haven for refugees became an issue of great importance to me. one of my closest friends and essentially an adopted member of my family was an interpreter who i met while deployed. his local knowledge and skills helped to de-escalate the many tense situations that involved
in war and helps to keep of american soldiers and civilians safe. a few months after i left, maybe five months later i got a call from him and he was shaken, terrified and received death threats, one family member was killed and a few of his friends were also murdered and he needed to get out. not knowing anything about the process we set out what would be a long and difficult process to get him out. he was not a refugee in the traditional sense but he was a u.s. affiliated iraqi with no home to return to safely. america promised him and thousands of others protection through our special immigrant visa program but all avenues stalled putting his life in jeopardy. he was routed through the refugee system which was a long and burdensome process. he fled baghdad living off the money i could scrape together
as an intern and the generosity of my friends and family until we got him a visa three years later. it was a long three years. after arriving in the united states, he worked multiple jobs at once, he got himself enrolled in school, he started a beautiful family and ultimately he returned to iraq for two years but this time as an american citizen working as a translator with coalition forces to push back militant groups that were terrorizing villages including his own village. i can tell you you will not meet a person more proud to be an american and him. he was lucky, all obstacles notwithstanding, his circumstances would be different if you tried to come to america now. his elderly ailing mother, the only remaining member of his family was delayed in gaining entry into the u.s. even after
attaining her visa due to the administrations travel ban. the required time, money and intervention -- they definitely don't have the benefit of these resources. as we know, the current administration has decimated our program including the related programs to try to expedite resettlement and those who serve alongside servicemembers. both in terms of quantity and process. this week they announced their intention to slash the cap and the previous historic low of 45,000 to the new historic low of 30,000 refugees. and justifying the action they have invoked national security. ours is a country that is historically welcoming in the face of extraordinary violence and persecution. the administration aside, policy has long been a bipartisan issue. having been on the ground, i have seen firsthand how important foreign allies are and how critical it is to ensure safety. they like so many others are feeling two very -- to the ones
that we condemn. we need to make sure lawmakers better understand what is happening on the ground and how it affects our national security and foreign policy. which is why i am happy to be here with you today and why i believe this paper and this event is a necessary corrective to the cynicism that sneaks into politics when we are talking about issues of immigration and refugees. we need to allow more people into this country like him, not just because it's the right thing to do and i believe it is, not just because of the real economic benefits and they are remarkable. it also because refugees strengthen rather than weaken u.s. national security. which is the topic of today's discussion. to begin the discussion, i would like to turn things over to my colleague who is the director of immigrations policy and senior counsel and she will moderate the first panel for refugee resettlement.
good morning. thank you for the introduction. i wanted to dive right in. we will start today by discussing the strategic national security and foreign policy case for refugee resettlement including some important findings from our new paper and on that note it is my pleasure to introduce our speakers on this panel. to my immediate right we have linda chavez who is a senior fellow at the miss gannon center and director of the becoming american initiative, a syndicated columnist whose work appears in the wall street journal, the washington post and new republic, just to name
a few. and the author of -- towards new politics of the spanish assimilation. it discusses a timeline of hispanic progress regarding bilingual education, voting rights, immigration and affirmative action. linda served in the reagan administration as the director of public liaison making her the highest ranking woman in the white house at that time. in 2000 they named her a living legend, she received her ba from the university of colorado. next to her is scott cooper who is the director of national security outrage at humans rate -- human rights first and leads the veterans for american ideals project which is a nonpartisan movement of military veterans who advocate for american leadership on human rights. he spent his career in the marine corps serving five tours in iraq, two in afghanistan, one in europe and one in the
western pacific. he is a recognized expert on military relations and national security and has been published in a long list of outlets. this year he was named one of the we are mighty's supporting the military committee. and finally we are joined by -- professor of political science at the university of north texas. and the codirector of the social conflict now database project. it's affiliated with the -- at the university of texas and the international peace research institute and the jon goodwin health center for political studies at southern methodist university. he has authored a number of books and articles and received his phd. welcome panelists, we are happy you could join. we will have 30 minutes of discussion followed by 15 minutes and -- of question and answer. we invite you to tweet us, our
participants and use the hashtag. let's begin. professor, you published a research paper about the audience -- can you give us a quick history of the refugee program and how the audience can find out about your findings on the paper? >> -- the intent and outcome of the program clearly saves lives. that is undeniable. because the president has the prerogative to set annual admissions criteria, foreign policy considerations have often crept into the admissions process. for years, this was to the
consternation of human rights defenders and refugee advocates who wanted a purely humanitarian program. but, this is a case, policy area in which the united states moral and humanitarian interests have aligned with its strategic foreign policy goals. and indeed before the 1980 refugee act was passed, the definition of a refugee was someone escaping communism or countries of the middle east. the reason why communism was the criteria for admitting people was in order to embarrass the soviet union for its human rights abuses, drained them of human resources and encouraged defection from key assets, people with intelligence and so on. and also to show to the world that democracy and human rights rule of law were preferable to falling under the soviet sphere of influence. even after the passage of the 1980 refugee act which
eliminated the restrictive definition of a refugee and brought it more in line with international refugee regime and international law, you could still see a foreign-policy bias or prerogative playing into the refugee admissions program. the top sources were people fleeing from communist regimes, such as vietnam or cuba, and also places where the united states had a key military interest and had military operations. so iraq, yugoslavia, somalia, kosovo, these were places where we were involved militarily and as part of that effort, we agreed to accept a share of the refugees stemming from that crisis. what is the strategic case for refugee resettlement and why is it not only in our humanitarian interest, but also in our
national security interest? first, the program often provides the ability to troubled regions. if you look at the crisis in the world, 85% refugees go to developing countries, they are not coming to the united states and canada, they are remaining in the region in countries that are typically poor, poor capacity, to manage massive flows and often have the same ethnic, rift in their society as the country of origin. the united states is strategically using the program as a way to relieve some of the burden on those countries of first asylum and in addition to providing generous monetary and assistance packages. we saw that in vietnam, kosovo, and it worked. it is also used to help facilitate allies in the region. undeniable that when we going
to places like iraq, afghanistan, syria, somalia, there is going to be a never been -- a negative impact on countries in the region who are expected to deal with the refugee flow. the united states has facilitated military cooperation from bases to logistics, other support functions by accepting a share of the burden on those countries the first asylum. not only the countries themselves but also ensuring cooperation of partners on the ground, in the countries effective. finally, this is less tangible but the refugee admissions program serves to promote a positive image of the united states as a welcoming, multicultural society that is committed to the human rights, democracy and the rule of law and is a better alternative to living in society that are closed, authoritarian and run
by extremists. that message that the united states has not only championed human rights and democracy rhetorically but it's willing to put resources on the table when needed, counters extremist narratives that the united states is unwelcoming. recent dramatic testimony have been predicated on this notion that refugees pose an undue risk to united states. that the vetting procedures do not work. all of the evidence suggests that it is unfounded. since the act, this is almost 40 years of history, not a single refugee has been involved in a fatal terrorist attack in the united states. that includes the tens of thousands of refugees that we have resettled from syria and iraq which are often thought to pose the most risk. 70% of the searing refugees, a small number of searing refugees , relative to the 6 million that have been displaced, 20,000 searing refugees, 72%
are women and children under the age of 14. and not a single one has been involved in a terrorist attack. /in the program is not only what is contrary to american values and american commitment to human rights and democracy but it's also counter to national security. and makes her -- it harder to gain cooperation that we need and helps feel the idea that the united states is a hostile, unwelcoming place which promotes the extremist narrative that the united states is hostile to islam, hostile to people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, we would do well not only to raise the cap to historical norms and increase commitment both here and overseas to protecting refugees. >> one of the things you mentioned that i think is important to confront head-on
in more detail is a progressive idea that refugees pose a serious risk to americans in the form of terrorism. despite the fact that we know they are vetted more thoroughly than any other immigrant that comes to united states. that is not to say there is no risk. i asked the panel and perhaps scott wants to take this on. what makes the national security community so confident in our bedding systems and are refugees populations of people that we need to worry about with regard to terrorism? >> great question. let me just -- thanks for having me. you might imagine that my politics are not on the far left having spent 20 years in the marine corps. approaching this challenge we have, how do we keep the country safe, you can't eliminate risk.
every time we went out on patrol in iraq and afghanistan, we would look for ied's, determining what the risk was. there was not another choice on whether we would go forward. eliminating risk is something you try to minimize among the challenges we face as a national security expert and military operation so we established a system. a credible system of how we --. the notion they are a threat is false. i will give you an example. i was in jordan last year to look at this vetting system in jordan. its extraordinary. the notion we don't know who these people are, is completely false. first of all, syria is a police state and one of those things that they do well is protect themselves. so, when they were trying to filter 300 refugees to nominate
to a country to take 300 refugees, they could vet them by almost every category. a blond haired, blue-eyed hazel haired refugee or you name the category, you know every address they have lived at the last 10 years and all those things. that is just the u.n. system and once they nominate people for coming to america, then they are vetted by our own intelligence agencies, national security agencies. there is no more vetted traveler then a refugee who would be coming to the united states. let me talk about a strategic point if i may. about what the value of this is and to your point, and the cold war, we welcomed refugees in large major to embarrass the ussr. one of my close friends who happens to be on our board was a young man who teaches at
hunter college now. he came here as a refugee with his mother and 7-year-old. he went on to be a rhodes scholar, he teaches at college, that is a success story. and to joe's point, i have dozens of stories like that. these are not people who would wish to do harm. they are the kind of people that display courage, that i want -- what better way to counter the narrative of an organization like isis or the regime in syria and to say welcoming those victims -- >> -- refugees are the population of those that we need to worry about with regard to terrorism, -- with regard to refugees, is that the population of people in the united states that we need to
worry about committing terrorist attacks given that we haven't seen one committed in the better part of 40 years? >> absolutely not, let's be clear, there are two different procedures through which refugees or someone with a well- founded fear of persecution could come to the united states. first is through asylum, they appear at a part -- a port of entry, airport processing facility and present themselves to authority or someone in the united states on a different visa, fears going back home. at that point while they are here, they are vetted and we make sure they are who they say they are and make sure they have a legitimate claim to asylum. europe is receiving tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and people who are entering european union territory and only then having the claims be processed. so, for europe and the asylum procedure, sometimes it is tricky to know who is who and to make sure that actors are
screened out although i would argue the europeans are doing a good job and we have done a good job of that. the refugee resettlement procedure, they are screened overseas. it takes 18 months to three years to pass through all the background checks, multiple security agencies, screening the files, health checks and it's no guarantee of entry. if someone who is willing or seeking to do the united states harm, process that takes 18 months to three years, to go through and is no guarantee of entry, is not the way to get it. this has helped people that are innocent civilians playing brutal conflict, people who the united states has an interest in resetting be neck -- being that they cooperated, the screening procedure is robust, the fact that not a single fatal terrorist attack has been
committed by refugee since the passage of the 1980 law is testament to that. there have been isolated cases where there have been dangerous plots but when you look at the cost versus the benefits, the benefits are enormous in terms of economy, national security, image around the world and the risks while they are there are negligible. as i pointed out in the paper, the odds of being killed by refugee terrorist is one in over 3 billion. the odds of being struck by lightning twice is higher than being killed by refugee. >> i am glad that you brought up the difference between what is happening in europe with regards to refugees and what happens in america.
there are stark differences on different fronts and one of the other pervasive undercurrents is that once they are in america they don't assimilate when we are seeing the opposite. linda, you have been a strong proponent of assimilation, can you talk about why it is different in america and perhaps better than in europe with respect to the refugees and immigrants? >> it is an interesting position to be in because i have been an advocate for immigration and assimilation, all of my professional career going back 40 years. i used to be the bjte noire on the left because i talked about assimilation because i talk about assimilation. i do believe that the united states has almost a unique position in history. they are a handful who have similar histories but we are
the biggest country that has essentially been formed around an idea, principles and not on the basis of history or blood or soil. who we are is different. what i see happening now is a real identity crisis going on. in america. this notion that somehow we can protect ourselves against all threats when both heidi and scott talked about the notion of refugees as threats, the idea that you could possibly eliminate all risk in life is a kind of crazy idea when you think about it. none of us would be in this room today if we lived our lives that way. simply getting up in the morning and going out and stepping foot outside our house or even
staying in our houses does not protect us from risk for an the important thing about the american idea is that we have a history of bringing people here from all parts of the world, the fact that we only had a formal reputation program doesn't mean we don't -- that we haven't been a refugee nation. we were founded in part, people fled to what was then the -- colonies and later became the united states because they were fleeing religious persecution. the ability to help people become part of our society has been very aggressive and has worked well. better than for example in europe. my old boss, ronald reagan used to like to say you can move to france or moved to germany and you can live there all your
life but you are not necessarily ever going to become a frenchman or german. that isn't true of america. he moved to america and you become american. some of this has been because of policies but i think a great deal more has had to do with culture. and with the idea that we are a culture that encourages people to become part of the whole. our very model dates back to our founding, out of many one has been our goal and we have been very successful at assimilating people who were born elsewhere. that is certainly true of immigrants and it is as true today of the immigrants who are coming from asia and latin america as it was the immigrants who came from europe, in the early 20th century, we do in fact turn people who had previous allegiances and
different cultures into americans for a period of time and it is certainly true with refugees. if you look at refugees and how they progress in society, they prefer to learn english, some of that is because of what heidi described in terms of the process of becoming a refugee to the united states. a lot of refugees start learning english if they didn't learn it in their home country and refugee camp. it is a big deal to take english classes and prepare yourself to be able to migrate. so they learned english at a rapid rate, they have higher education levels as adults, then the nativeborn population. they move into the economic mainstream's, higher rates of entrepreneurship, homeownership and other indicators of social and economic integration and --
than other groups to. they do in fact become american and i want to make one reference to an article in the washington post. it is an absolutely beautiful op-ed by a woman, the title is i came to america as a refugee, she talks about the experience of being a refugee where unlike being an immigrant were you may have had planning and foresight , may have put together money, you knew what your path was and how you wanted to get there, being a refugee, where you are operated, you don't have anything to say about whether or not you may be forced to leave your country, you may only flee with the clothes on your back.
the interesting thing about a refugee is that they come here with nothing. and yet, they succeed. we give help to refugees, we give more help to refugees than we do to immigrants because we understand that they didn't have that process of being able to plan ahead and say -- save and plan for their future but the fact is, this woman describes how it was that she came as a refugee from iran, had to recite death to america in class in school every day, ended up here as a late teenager with very distorted views of what america was, she thought we were this totally -- into materialism and the only thing that mattered in america was getting ahead financially and that it was because of her status as a refugee that she learned the
true meaning of america. i think that experience is almost universal. are there going to be some people -- there have been a handful of people who have been involved in plots but i don't think we can ever eliminate that. but, is that risk somehow supposed to guide our entire policy and make us give up on a principal and idea that you can fundamentally -- we are as a country -- >> one of the things that i want to talk more about and you mentioned this, this idea of the refugee of the individual. one a lot of people talk about refugees, we fear these -- we hear the stories about someone who broke the mold and made it big and it makes it so -- seem like the refugees of the population are desperate people across the border that have lower levels of skill, uneducated, poor, when in fact
that is not the case. that is just a common misconception and in the paper are highlighted cases of high ranking, extremely well educated individuals that have at least in the past used our system as a way to defect from their countries. they call this allowing people to vote with their feet. in favor of coming to the united states, so to the panel, how do you think this has impacted the areas of the world that they are leaving like the ussr and its proxies and what do you think is the potential gain for the united states if we were to allow this to happen more frequently? >> i would love to take that on. the first thing i think to recognize is the number of refugees that would be settled is minuscule in comparison to
the problem. the most recent report shows 68 million displaced people, 22 million are refugees. if we were to settle 100,000 refugees in america which is three times what the administration is asking to resettle, that is almost statistically insignificant. most refugees will return to their home countries and that is important to understand. however, the narrative behind that and i mentioned my old friend, the narrative that what america is doing is so counter to what those other countries are doing, is something that catches on. it is no mistake that he is from i ron, what a powerful message to send to the regime then we have welcomed one of their best citizens who had to flee the regime because they were threatened. and if anyone, ronald reagan understood the power -- to look
at for instance, his final farewell address in which he talked about was unable story. there was a midway, a sailor saw a refugee boat, they put the landing craft out to rescue the boat, you had a southeast asian refugee that waved at the sailor and said hello, hello mr. american, mr. freedom and. that was his final address in 1989. the power of that, i don't think can be overestimated. that is why i think especially this program is so critical and why we are shooting ourselves in the foot. >> can you talk about a couple of the stories you have highlighted in your paper? >> during the cold war, refugees were often called effectors, for the very reasons that scott
was mentioning. it was showing the world that the falling under the soviet sphere of influence, that life in the united states, life in the west, the liberal democracy that champions humans rights is better. but at the same time we did gain key intelligence assets. in the paper there are a number of stories of polish, czech, estonian officials, high- ranking officials that affected the west and provided a tell intelligence to the united states. at the same time if you carry it forward to today, those refugees have become -- many are not the poor and destitute as often believed. yes, they have become poor and they have become disadvantage due to traumatic circumstances but many are people with skills, there are doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, people that come to the united
states and become ambassadors of american ideals but also enrich the united states through their ability to work, they do have higher entrepreneurship rates, higher homeownership rate than other migrant categories. at the same time, we gain cultural knowledge, language skills, things that promote our engagement with the world in the long run. even if you look at high- ranking officials in the united states government, henry kissinger and madeleine albright came from refugee backgrounds. several entrepreneurs including sergey brin, the founder of google came as a refugee. we have gained valuable skills and resources, at many school risk to ourselves. as you said before, it's like shooting ourselves in the foot. by slashing the numbers so
significantly. >> in addition to shooting ourselves in the foot i want to talk about the countries of first asylum which we are hearing about more often now given the numbers of refugees that were cited earlier. it generally means it is the first country that a refugee arrives and, that will provide them some type of adequate protection, a durable solution under international law, it is usually just a neighboring country where a refugee arrives and they usually take on very large populations of refugees which i am sure everyone in this room is aware of. that is also where we see the formation of refugee camps. in many of these cases, we are seeing these countries becoming very burdened by this influx of refugees so i want to talk about what the impacts the countries of first asylum are, especially given that not only do they take on large numbers of refugees but they do so in a
fairly haphazard way which you touched on earlier. and whether there are negative impacts to the united states when these regions are left unstable by the influx of refugees. >> before -- i want to be clear that the vast majority of refugees never participate in political violence in either joining a terrorist group or other forms of militant organizations and the vast majority refugee flows, countries that host refugees -- those have come to massive destabilization. there are cases in which neighboring countries received a huge influx of refugees, if you think about a country like jordan, small country but now one in four residents in jordan is a refugee, you think many of
those countries are in the developing world but have poor administrative capacity, bureaucratic capacity, limited financial means to care for the refugees and often the same ethnic sectarian ideological decisions in the decide -- in the society that they were fleeing from and become a recipe for disaster. so we saw this for example an civil war hundreds of thousands of albanians, refugees from kosovo fled to macedonia where macedonia has a domestic albanian population and very limited capacity to care for such a large number of refugees. it insisted as part of the agreement to cooperate with u.s. and nato military efforts -- agreed to share the refugees provided there was international assistance and an evacuation program.
if you look at syria today, think about the neighboring countries receiving the most burden from the now +5 million displaced amount of people, turkey, lebanon and jordan. it has the same ethnic divisions, similar divisions as syria has for the politics that are intertwined for decades, turkey even though it has been relatively welcoming for the refugees and it must be commended for taking a leadership role on the syrian crisis, beginning to see tensions as those populations move from becoming temporary and transient to becoming a a permanent fixture. we are starting to see attacks on refugees him a questions about integration and the long- term prospects on the territory. they are dealing with over 3 million syrians who have arrived since 2012 in. that is a significant challenge. this is very clear in the state
department annual report to congress about refugee priorities, part of the reason that we are accepting refugees from where we are accepting them is to help alleviate some of the pressure. i want to be clear the number that we bring in is a drop in the bucket. we are talking about 18,000- 20,000 syrian refugees out of a population of millions, that's not a lot. but in conjunction with other assistant packages, -- fully funding the agencies can make a meaningful difference and making sure that they are secure, well cared for , not breeding grounds for militants, that extremists don't have access to the refugees and recruitment efforts, the generous programs of which resettlement is a part and certainly help prevent the worst regional destabilization.
in addition to cutting the numbers, the administration has cut funding for many of the agencies. that must be borne in mind that it's not just the number of refugees that we are supporting here but we have cut financial contributions to refugees in camps overseas as well and leaving countries in the region that we need as partners and allies on their own. >> can i add something to that? i know we will get into this later but what you have described is a system in which refugees fleeing their country's first enter often poor countries that have no means whatsoever to give them the assistance they need then when they move on, particularly if they do so without a formal process or with a formal process they end up in places in europe a welfare state and
they are put into the welfare state and in my view one of the great problems with the lack of assimilation and integration in some countries is that they become isolated because they don't become integrated into the society because they are basically taking care of by the state which is not a good thing for human beings. becoming dependent does not necessarily permanently dependent, not good, one of the great things that we do in our program as we bring people in and we give them assistance. but it is limited and it's also very focused, we actually decide where people will live by and large, we resettle them into communities where we know there is some chance of integration, jobs available that maybe some people in the community from the origin country to provide an enclave for the initial period where they feel comfortable but then
we expect them after they have been given the temporary assistance to move on and take care of themselves. i think that has been one of the key successes. it may not be possible to do that when you talk about millions of people but it's possible to do that with 100,000 or 200,000 people. and lord knows we can do it with less than 30,000 even though the administration says they have kept it at 30,000. there is no indication that they will need the number, what they seem to do across the board with all of the programs admitting people who are foreign-born to the united states is not in fact ever -- in place. >> that the great point, everyone has mentioned that mike pompeo said the other day
that the administration's proposal for the refugee camp for 2019 will be 30,000 refugees which is a 33% drop from the lowest cap last year of 45,000, and to linda's point, of the 45,000 as of the end of august we have admitted under 20,000 refugees. while the administration still needs to consult with congress about the final number we can expect the number to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000. what i want to touch on with regards to that is whether we have seen or whether we can expect to see other nations responding in kind when they see our numbers continually being lowered and what type of impact that will have on the u.s. and the global response to the refugee crisis at large.
>> what i think you are hinting at, so much of the conversation is should we be doing this, we have an obligation, the threat, we have tried to debunk that. but imagine for a minute, you are having a conversation with government officials in jordan, i think it is hard to find a closer strategic ally in the region, much less the world in jordan. they have over 600,000 people but they have absorbed and what we are telling them is we are reducing the number of refugees from the middle east from 17,500 to 9000. and proposing to reduce the amount of aid that we will provide to the international affairs budget. if i'm a jordanian i want to say what really, -- i don't really see that. and we are struggling, we don't have a choice, now that they
have chosen to absurd -- absorbed 6000 people, we have an interest in being a good ally and having a stable region which we are not doing by our rhetoric. and that is among the great strategic costs whether we welcome two or 100,000. the rhetoric behind that is what is harmful. >> with just a few minutes left, if you were a lawmaker, and you were gone away but what -- and you wanted to make a change in how we handle refugees, what would be your first step, your first policy? >> quite simply to restore the cap to what it was previously and actually meet the number you set out. it is striking that we are even
having this conversation. immigration has often been a controversial issue on capitol hill. this program, the resettlement program was not a controversial program. it was considered sacrosanct. it could deal with border enforcement, budgets, work visa , republican and democratic administrations from ronald reagan to barack obama used the refugee resettlement program to help people in critical need and further our foreign policy interests and congress passed the numbers hardly without question. congress, didn't matter. this was considered a program that could not be touched. it was so important. for moral and strategic greed. we need to get back to a commonsense policy that we had for nearly 40 years. there is -- magic formula for
how we get this through. we just need to do what we have been doing. we need to do something that has been -- as linda stated part of the national tradition since the founding of the nation. and part of u.s. law since 1980. we need to get back to where we were and the bogeyman of the refugee terrorists, that narrative needs to be encountered. >> if i was a lawmaker, in 1980 we welcomed more than 2 million refugees. that was -- we welcomed these people because there was a crisis. and the refugee act of 1980 decided it would be the power to the connector branch to decide how many refugees would resettle and that worked well. it worked well for allies because of the crisis, the executive branch was able to
say no we will welcome more iraq he allies and that is account for the refugee camp. so what i would do if i was -- because we are not seeing them do what is important, i would introduce a bill where congress sets not a ceiling but a minimum number of refugees. i know that turns it on his head when you have an executive branch that is not proceeding along what makes strategic sense, that is what the first branch of government should be doing. >> if i were in congress i would vote to pass that bill. the world right now is experiencing the largest refugee crisis since world war ii. there was conflict, the conflict in africa, and different kinds of conflict, but conflict nonetheless, are posing a tremendous challenge. i think we have as an obligation
as americans to live up to ideals that accept refugees. i am not sure you could require that there be a minimum number of a person's admitted -- there could be some constitutional issues involved, i am not sure that it would work but certainly the principle that we go back to our tradition, taking at least 100,000 people in seems a very bare minimum that we ought to be doing and there needs to be pushed back and there needs to be pushback from republicans and i am happy that senator langford has been involved in this but we need to get more republicans involved because this has not been a partisan issue. this is not conservative versus liberal, this is about being american and standing up for our ideals and being the
country we have always been and helping build the greatest nation in the world and refugees are a part of that. >> we have 15 minutes for questions and answers. the question -- the microphone is in the center aisle, come up with a brief question, we have only skimmed the surface of a very complicated set of topics. we look forward to speaking with you. >> thank you for the amazing panel. my question is to miss chavez. anyone else can feel free to answer. i am curious because you mentioned a lot about a simulation. how much do you think the fear that refugees won't re- assimilate plays into the rhetoric of we don't want refugees to resettle?
>> i think it is at the heart of the opposition. yes the administration is using fear of terrorism that we will have somehow let in the next 9/11 actors into the united states, which is absolutely absurd. given how thoroughly vetted people are, i think the real fear and the fear amongst people is the question of assimilation. it is what is driving the immigration debate. but i have to say, someone who has written about immigration for some 40 years, this is nothing new and while we are an immigrant nation and we like to talk about welcoming people, and every period where there has been large-scale immigration into the united states, these fears have predominated among the population. it was true of ben franklin. terribly worried we would be german highest and that the germans would take over the new country alexander hamilton was
an immigrant from the west indies. he thought foreigners would foreign eyes america. in the 19th century there was animus towards the irish, german, central and -- scandinavians, and the earliest 20 century, europeans, southern and eastern europeans, we would like to think of these people today as europe is one big happy family, they didn't think that about the italians, or some of the other people coming. a lot of it is fear that people are not assimilating. but all of the evidence shows that people no matter where they come from do in fact assimilate and assimilate quickly and refugees seem to assimilate even more quickly than immigrants who are already doing a good job. >> hello, our office is working
on a bill -- i wanted to hear your input on what >> i think 100,000 is a good number to start do that. we went from 25,000-80,000 -- the key to that you need to put people behind that, then you have to figure out policy and what we are have among the nine agencies to start. as soon as we would have to expand as we have done and as we did -- -- that would be a number i would start with.
>> what i would add is the number and if there's a regional criteria as there is no has to be flexible and adaptable. you can pass a bill now but you don't know when the next crisis is coming. so, the president has a prerogative to exceed the cap or to alter the numbers in consultation with the state department and other agencies. but we don't know when the next syria will erupt or the next crisis in africa or southeast asia will erupt. the numbers should be flexible and adaptable to meet changing circumstances on the ground. it should be robust. >> as you look at that, look at what we did to kosovo? -- that was a great success and the way responded which we have
-- we did respond well. >> to your point -- i can't see your name, there is no statutory requirement that the president has to fill the number, we are seeing that right now. would not provide enough padding for an adaptation of the numbers, if we set a minimum cap, no obligation for the president to meet the cap? >> the cap as a guideline. it is a maximum number and there is regional kite -- criteria and the president can exceed or not meet the cap. in the last fiscal year, maybe 5-6 regions designated, they did not meet the cap for any of them except for european. where we exceeded the cap. and you can think about what message that sends. the regional cap according to the 1980 refugee law are not set in stone. --
>> i caution that we have the supreme court decision, the one i opposed, -- and the bigger issue and bigger challenge is to try to make this a public issue to try to get the american people on our side. we need to try to educate people about who refugees are and that is really the best way to accomplish our goals. we cannot simply do it by passing law that details as well and depending on when the law was passed, it would not be vetoed. it really requires a massive
effort on the part of nonprofits, and other organizations to try to get out there and change public opinion on this issue. >> can you tell the me -- tell me the name of the court case you are referencing? >> i do not remember the name of it. mac thank you very much. >> a lot of you talk about the importance of the narratives that are established by a refugee program. i am curious as to how reversible you think the narrative would be just by policy changes? >> first of all, the narrative is the policy. i think the policy changes are the most difficult ones to implement based on the reality
of where we are. congress has been unable to push back with oversight on this . passing all law -- a lot of people be poked -- vetoproof is unlikely. i would point to the holocaust memorial that has a wonderful display. it is striking and the parallel is quite scary. it talks about what we did in the 1930s in fear of refugees. you remember there was only one country that stood out and said yes, we will rec you -- welcome refugees. it was the dominican republic. having hearings about the strategic validity of welcoming refugees is how we will perhaps
change public opinion. policy is the more difficult task. >> are there any more questions? >> i met with -- i am met with the u.s. conference of catholic bishops. we are honored to be sponsoring this event. thank you very much for the riveting presentation. thank you also for focusing so much on moderation, common sense and values. as a question, i wanted to ask about one of the american values that the refugee program supports. it is support of people fleeing religious persecution. i wonder what comments you might have about that and the impact on those individuals with the recent cuts? thank you. >> i know that we have heard a lot in right-wing media about
syrian refugees and others in the middle east, religious minorities in the middle east, specifically christians and how we are not taking enough christians. no one is suggesting we cannot take more. religious persecution is certainly a part that i think sometimes when we talk about the muslim population, we act as if muslims themselves are not being persecuted. the divisions within these countries, the the sectarian divisions have attributed enormously to the problems we are seeing there. the idea of taking one group because it is similar to our own makeup as a country, and exclude others, sometimes it ignores the fact that there are people who happen to be different religiously than the majority of our population but who faced enormous persecution. certainly, there is a within
muslim communities, the nazis, the other christians, and others in the regions and i think religion should be a factor and we should be looking to help those who are facing religious persecution. >> as i noted in the paper, the refugee -- has helped hundreds of thousands of eastern europeans to the united states in the 1940s and 1950s. there were provisions in that law that limited the entry of jewish and catholic refugees. this was after world war ii. congress included provisions in that bill that limited certain religious minorities, specifically jews and catholics because of antonym -- animosity toward that religious group.
now the narrative has changed. the new threat is supposedly muslim refugees when these populations are fleeing extremist -like al qaeda and isis and the taliban. if you meet refugees from afghanistan or iraq, syria, the vast majority, do not share the extremist worldview that these groups do. they actually become ambassadors of american ideals. they show that the united states is a country that is welcoming of all religions, people of all faiths and all walks of life. it is regardless of whether there muslim, christian, jewish or have no religion at all. people can come together in this country and that is what counters the narrative of an exclusive religious or ethnic nation that groups like isis and al qaeda are trying to foster around the world.
>> i want to thank each of you kill your your district each of you for your willingness to participate in this conversation. we have only scratched the surface. i encourage you to reach out to us with any questions. we will take a 16 minute break before we return to our second panel which will discuss the three keys that scott talked about, the people, the process, some of the policy regarding what resettlement looks like in the united states. i encourage you to come back. get some coffee, take a quick rake and come back at 11:30 pm for our second panel. -- 1130 -- 1130 -- 11:30 am for our second panel. thank you. >> c-span washington journal live everyday with news and policy issues that impact you.
coming up friday morning, washington post national security reporter greg miller discusses his new book, examining russia's interference in the 2016 election. then frazier, former assistant secretary of state for african american affairs, talks about first ladies -- first lady melania trump strip to africa. be sure to watch friday morning. joined the discussion. >> this week and on american history tv on c-span3, saturday at 8 pm eastern time, on lectures in history, wake forest university professor, david lubin on 19 century hardest -- artist. on sunday, 8 pm eastern, on the presidency, a look at how the fashion choices up pat nixon and betty ford reflected the politics and culture of their time. at 9 pm eastern, the ceremony marking the 225th anniversary of the u.s. capital cornerstone where president george washington and area freemasons
portrayed the cornerstone of the u.s. capitol building during a ceremony that including this man included corn, oil and one. watch american history tv this weekend on cpap -- c-span3. >> sunday night on q&a, university historian joanne freeman on her book, the field of blood, the road to civil war. >> it was a massive encounter but was really interesting to me was people at the time looked at it and what they saw was a group of northerners and a group of southerners, locked up and armed, running at each other in the house of representatives. several said this does not look like a normal progressive
district congressional site. it looks like a battle. that is really striking. indeed, it certainly did look like a battle and it is not that long before the civil war. >> sunday night at eight eastern on c-span's q&a. >> two of the trump administration's executive nominees have their confirmations -- hearings this week. michael goodbye and a -- would post the regulatory commission. they answer questions about the rising cost of federal agencies and ideas for interesting the increases. from the senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee, this is about 1.5 hours. >> good morning. come to order.