Hypocrisy and Moral and Cultural Relativism in the Immigration Context

By Dan Cadman on April 2, 2014

Last week, the Center published a Backgrounder I wrote on the U.S. asylum process and program, which is buckling under the strain of abuse by all three branches of our government — not to mention the many thousands of aliens who are gaming the system solely to buy themselves time, the right to work, and, increasingly, a get-out-of-jail-free card in the form of an approved grant of asylum, even in the face of fraud.

After publication, I received an email from a concerned reader who asked, quite reasonably, what can be done? I'd included a number of policy recommendations in the paper, but the question of how they might garner enough support to be implemented is one I've been pondering.

The reader also pointed me to an article that appeared in the Providence (R.I.) Journal, "Human-rights clinic aids asylum seekers in Rhode Island", which came out at about the same time as my Backgrounder. As the reader noted, one of the organizations cited, Physicians for Human Rights, "puts its current success rate at around 92 percent." That is an astoundingly high success rate, and should give pause to anyone. Also cited is a local law firm, half of whose practice of nearly 1,000 cases involves asylum applicants; a going concern, to say the least.

And this is the fundamental problem: practitioners of all sorts are drawn like flies to honey to giveaway benefits programs with high success rates. The New York Times published an article in February of this year that exemplifies the problem, "Asylum Fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies". The article highlighted the ease with which Chinese nationals were obtaining grants of asylum based on fabricated religious beliefs or false opposition to the Chinese government's one-family/one-child policies. It also showed clearly the depth of involvement by unscrupulous lawyers and middle-men, who make a living assisting aliens in perpetrating asylum fraud. The New York case is far from isolated.

Please note carefully: I do not say that either the law firm or that the organization is engaged in anything shady — I have no way to know. But I cannot fathom that nine out of every 10 individuals handled truly merit asylum.

And I was particularly interested in one of the cases presented in the article: that of a Guatemalan woman who is seeking asylum because of domestic violence. It is important to understand that being abused by one's spouse or partner, however horrible, is unambiguously not a ground on which one can seek asylum. The hook here, subtle as it may be, is that she is claiming that the Guatemalan government chooses not to protect her because Guatemalan police don't care about enforcing domestic violence laws. Thus she would have federal asylum officers construe that she is a member of a "particular social group" — an elastic, undefined phrase — in this case, "abused wives not protected by the Guatemalan government".

Is that a true representation of police attitudes in Guatemala? I don't actually know, but what I find interesting is that, here in this country, advocacy groups have strongly opposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents treating convictions of aliens for domestic violence as an offense for which they should be placed in deportation proceedings. The groups argue that when such aliens come to ICE attention as the result of fingerprint matches derived from police booking procedures, they should be ignored as "minor" crimes because many aliens come from cultures where domestic violence is routine.

Several police and sheriff's departments have bought into this line of reasoning, refusing to honor detainers filed by ICE agents against aliens incarcerated on domestic abuse charges. Some ICE offices have ceased to file detainers for those charges. Much to my dismay, the result has been a retreat from treating this despicable crime with the severity it deserves. An outsider looking in might find it difficult to discern any functional attitudinal difference between American cops and their Guatemalan counterparts.

This is hypocrisy, and moral and cultural relativism at its worst. Open borders advocates most assuredly want to keep their cake and yet eat it too. They do not scruple to cast domestic abuse in a dark light one moment, and dismissively the next, because they seem to have no qualms about pursuing any means to an end, as long as the end is an official grant of permission for the alien to stay — an end in which they have been joined by leaders of the very government charged with administering and enforcing the law.

Which leads us back to that eminently reasonable question: what can be done? And I'm stymied here for any kind of reasonable answer. What do you do when the president, and all of his men and women, are determined not to faithfully execute the immigration laws that are already on the books, and in fact are committed to ensuring that the dismantling of our immigration system becomes so pervasive that it may not be capable of resuscitation under other hands in the future?

The question, perhaps, needs to be addressed to the House of Representatives, our last, best hope for restoring constitutional order.