In a recent blog post, keying off the writings of my colleagues Nayla Rush and Mark Krikorian, I expressed dismay that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appeared to be working with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) and other federal agencies to create "alternative pathways" for aliens to enter the United States, apparently because they don't meet the definition of refugees under either international or domestic law.
This end-around is reminiscent of the types of "executive actions" undertaken by the Obama administration, and is perfectly consistent with the kind of activism seen out of the UNHCR in recent years. The organization seems to have abandoned any attempt whatever to hew to the letter of international law in favor of a more all-encompassing view that closely mirrors that of many open-borders advocates.
Although my blog post and the prior writings were focused more on the matter of Syrian and other Middle Eastern and even sub-Saharan migrants queuing up to find their way to the First World, the fact of the matter is that this activist expansion of how the UNHCR (and, for that matter, the Obama administration) chooses to construe the "right" to migrate even when outside the boundaries prescribed by law, is equally relevant to the Americas, as Kausha Luna persuasively shows in her most recent blog post, "The UN's #RefugeeChildren Campaign".
The fact is that generalized violence — even civil war, per se — forms no basis on which an individual may claim asylum or refuge, a fact both UNHCR and DOS would like us to ignore. Increasingly, aliens have been shoe-horned into meeting the definition of "refugee" or "asylee" through expansive interpretations of what constitutes political opinion (which these days can mean no political opinion whatever as long as you can claim that someone else imputes an opinion to you), or what it means to be a member of a "particular social group."
And, when stretching that rubber band as far as it will go still doesn't get you far enough, there is always extensive application of the immigration parole authority, which has been the subject of much abuse in the past seven-plus years by officials within the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
A perfect case in point is the Central American Minors (CAM) Program, jointly administered by DOS and USCIS in three countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Indeed CAM (which has been the Obama administration's stealth "immigration executive action" program, operating abroad as it does, outside the daily view of the American public) appears to have been the impetus for the #RefugeeChildren Campaign discussed by Luna in her blog, if one harkens to the words the UN is using in it promotional materials.
Readers will remember that the CAM program was formed as a last-ditch effort by the administration to end the embarrassment of the surge of families and minors hitting our southern border during the summer of 2014 — although from that perspective, it has been a failure, since the flow has not been stemmed. Even so, it presses forward, and when even the most liberal USCIS asylum officers can't find enough of a rationale to determine that an interviewee faces persecution on the five recognized grounds for granting refuge or asylum, no problem! There's always that wonderful tool parole, which can be shaped and molded like Silly Putty to do whatever needs done to be sure they are given their "alternative pathway" north, at U.S. taxpayer expense.
When I lamented this tendency toward collusion between the United States and UNHCR to exceed the boundaries of international and domestic law, I expressed the hope that congressional legislators would direct a sharp eye toward these incursions in order to curb them.
I'm happy to report that at least one has. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona has introduced the "Central American Amnesty Termination Act of 2016".
Rep. Gosar's bill would end the program by mandating that no federal appropriated funds or, importantly, fees including those collected by USCIS as a part of its Immigration Examinations Fee Account, may be used by any federal department or agency for any purpose that furthers the program.
The text of the bill is well worth reading because it is a concise indictment of everything that is wrong with the CAM program.
This bill is an excellent start at rolling back the profligate and lawless immigration programs of the present administration. This is a task that should not be left solely to the Supreme Court, since it is the constitutional lawmaking powers of the Congress that have been so egregiously infringed, not to mention the damage that has been inflicted to national sovereignty and the public interest.