The Obama administration — true to its mission of expanding all flows of immigration at all times — apparently has given itself a totally needless political headache.
It is reportedly opening long-closed doors that have kept a group of would-be Arab pilots out of our flight schools. This time the students would be from Libya.
According to CNSNews, the Department of Homeland Security is contemplating dropping a 1980s ruling that F-1 and M-1 (nonimmigrant) Libyan students should not be admitted for study at flight schools or in nuclear-related fields. The general idea is that since the Libyan revolution there is no need for these restrictions anymore.
As you might expect, some Republican congressmen — both far right Jason Chaffetz (Utah), and the more moderate chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (Va.) — have glommed on to the issue, with Chaffetz linking the proposal to the terrorists' attack on our consulate in Benghazi.
Let's think about this.
Yes, the regulation may be out-of-date and some non-terrorist Libyans (and perhaps their feeble government as well) may have wanted to change the regulations, but just because the request might be regarded as both modest and sensible does not mean that the administration should grant it. Not with the political backlash that is sure to follow.
Let's contemplate two different scenarios.
In the mild one, a group of young Libyans wanting pilot and similar training found themselves barred at our door and complained to their government, which saw the barrier as a bothersome symbol.
In the strong scenario, let's assume the facts above, and add the (probably imaginary) element that a change in the regulations was extracted as a quid-pro-quo when Libya (probably) acquiesced, with a wink and a nod, to the raid by our Special Forces that captured Abu Anas as-Liby, who is suspected of directing the 1998 bombings of two of our embassies in Africa. Let's add to the mix the (imaginary) element that one of the would-be pilots is the favorite nephew of the Libyan Prime Minister's favorite woman.
Our government, bearing in mind the probable domestic consequences of changing the rules, could have — and should have — shrugged off the mild situation by telling the Libyans that we have done a lot for them recently, so they shouldn't push their luck.
In the stronger scenario, maybe our response should have been to dig up some CIA money and tell the Libyan government we will pay for these young men's high-tech educations in, say, Ireland or Canada, but we will do so quietly.
In either case our foreign policy establishment would have avoided creating political problems for the White House.
But maybe the White House is so pro-immigration that it does not really care about the predictable reaction to the Libyan would-be pilots' request.