Republicans for more bureaucracy!

Republicans are always wanting more bureaucracy– right?  Apparently, if more bureaucracy means fewer Syrian refugees, they sure are.  Of course it makes sense to ensure that our refugee process is appropriately thorough (and by all honest accounts it is!), but what passed the House yesterday is basically trying to kill refugee resettlement through absurdly excessive bureaucracy.   Russell Berman in the Atlantic:

On a bipartisan vote of 289-137, the House on Thursday approved legislation aimed at “pausing” the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq amid fears that ISIS terrorists could infiltrate the program after last week’s attacks in Paris. At first glance, the five-page bill appears rather perfunctory: It merely requires that three top national security officials—the FBI director, the secretary of Homeland Security, and the director of national intelligence—certify that each refugee is “not a threat to the security of the United States.”

Right, because literally three of the very highest-ranking persons responsible for national security should be spending their time looking at individual refugee cases.  Oh, and all three.  Republicans sure do love government efficiency.

“We can be compassionate, and we can also be safe,” Ryan said on the House floor. “It would mean a pause in the program until we can be certain beyond any doubt [emphasis mine] that those coming here are not a threat. It’s that simple. And I don’t think it’s asking too much.” The House GOP proposal wasn’t aggressive enough for some conservatives, including Heritage Action and a few lawmakers who proposed amendments to suspend the program altogether.

Right, because that’s a standard that makes for smart and efficient policy– certainty “beyond any doubt.”  Give me a break.

But senior Democrats in Congress and their allies with refugee resettlement organizations have also come out in opposition to the bill, arguing that what Republicans insist is a “pause” will in practice cripple the refugee program for months or even years. The language in the bill, they say, will force the federal government to come up with an entirely new system of verification, and the resulting process could take so long that the security clearances that refugee applicants acquire will expire before they ever reach the United States. “Our concern is that this adds a huge layer of bureaucracy to an already bureaucratic process,” said Melanie Nezer, the chairwoman of Refugee Council USA who is also a vice president at HIAS, one of the nation’s nine resettlement organizations. “This is just going to cause delays that could take years.”

Nezer said the Republican message masked the true impact of the legislation. “If you look at all the ways they could shut down this program, this is a way to say this isn’t what they’re doing, but if you look at the legislation, that’s actually what the result is,” she told me.

Still, Republicans insisted the intent of the bill was not to end the program. “We’re not saying we’re refusing,” said Representative Michael McCaul, who introduced the proposal as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “We’re just saying we want a thorough and robust vetting process before they’re brought in.”

Hey, you know what the current process is?  Thorough and robust.  Just cowardly and wrong.

While we’re at it, our intellectually honest libertarian friends at Cato  detail the refugee process and put the actual risk in perspective:

Few ISIS soldiers or other terrorists are going to spend at least three years in a refugee camp for a 0.042 percent chance of entering the United States when almost any other option to do so is easier, cheaper, and quicker.

If the United States still takes in 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, and the number of refugees rises to 4.5 million, a mere 0.22 percent of them–one out of every 450–will be resettled in the United States.  That number is still so small and the process so well monitored that potential terrorists are unlikely to see the refugee system as a viable way to enter the United States.

Foreign-born terrorists tend to enter on student visas, tourist visas, business visas, or have asylum applications pending, or are lawful permanent residents. All non-immigrant or immigrant categories face fewer security and background screenings than refugees do.

No, we’re not quite Japanese Internment here, but this is quite simply an epic fail on the part of America (and especially the xenophobic, fearmongering, Republican Party).

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