Out of the Mouths of Babes

By Dan Cadman on January 16, 2014

I spend a certain amount of time reading publications, writings, and blogs of groups, think tanks, and individuals whose ideas and philosophies are not well attuned to mine, at least where immigration is concerned. It's good to know what others are thinking.

Sometimes, to my surprise, I even find things on which I can agree, although I admit to a feeling of dissonance and nearly overwhelming vertigo at such moments, as if the ground had dropped out from under me.

One of those whom I occasionally read is Jason Dzubow, an immigration lawyer specializing in asylum claims, who writes as The Asylumist. He recently wrote a piece entitled "Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asylum Abuse: Some Questions for Rep. Goodlatte and for Asylum Advocates".

In it, Mr. Dzubow made a suggestion with which I completely agree: We need accurate statistics about who is seeking asylum and why. Asylum statistics, frankly like most immigration and naturalization statistics, are rudimentary at best and leave many open questions that deserve answers. It is regrettable that the government does not apply to the immigration system, as a whole, the rigor with which it attends census matters. Capturing data about each individual passing through that system, in sufficient detail to amalgamate intelligent and intelligible extracts, would I suspect lay to rest many contentious issues for which there is now only anecdotal information.

But Mr. Dzubow lost me completely in his suggestion that we (the United States) need to plan ahead to deal with a potentially large refugee flow from Mexico. He makes this statement: "Faced with refugee crises, other countries have created temporary camps for people, where they can stay until it is safe to return (though often that takes decades or longer, and then there is no where to return to). Maybe such a model would be appropriate if the situation in Mexico deteriorates further."

In my view, by the time such camps become necessary, we have already lost tactical control of the situation, and this in itself is evidence of inadequate contingency planning. But that is in some ways the lesser of my concerns.

The history of mankind is littered with examples of camps, and they are generally a litany of tragedy and shame. Let us engage in a moment of word association:

  • Concentration camp
  • Nisei
  • Gulag
  • Darfur
  • Srebrenica

I suspect that the American people are extremely unlikely to accept large-scale camps of the type suggested and, by Mr. Dzubow's own admission, they are sometimes not very "temporary" at all. Consider the Palestinian refugee camps that, after decades, have grown into full-blown, permanent ghettos inside the borders of other countries such as Jordan.

Mr. Dzubow's article also got me thinking: What if an immigration restrictionist, such as myself, had made such a suggestion? I can well imagine the instantaneous, visceral, and hateful responses I would have received.

But, because he is of a liberal disposition in immigration matters, and because he makes his living advocating for asylum claimants, his remarks have passed quietly, like a ship in the night. I haven't noted any outcry from advocacy groups screaming about racists or xenophobes or crypto-fascists.

Political correctness, it seems, is a one-way street.