ERICKSON: Helping The Persecuted

A view of the Statue of Liberty, August 8, 2017 in New York City.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

America has a long tradition of being open to those fleeing oppression. That tradition has been slowed by the Trump administration, and this issue has been absorbed into the big-picture battle on immigration issues as a whole.

It makes sense to crack down on fraud, but not at the expense of those fleeing communism and religious oppression.

The people of the world experiencing oppression for being Christian and those in the last remaining communist countries who are oppressed for merely having a religion are in need of the United States to resume its traditional role of being the country that will take them in.

The Trump administration needs to fix the refugee resettlement program to make sure that people with a good faith claim of refugee status can seek refuge in the United States. A Presidential Determination announcement on the number of refugees the U.S. will accept for the next year is coming soon. The President has an opportunity to lead the global fight against religious persecution and individuals fleeing communism and other oppressive regimes.

President Donald J. Trump used the American peoples’ heartburn over immigration to launch his campaign to the White House, and he is politically smart to keep his promises on that issue. But it is not going to hurt the President’s reelection effort — and it may help him with Cuban refugees in Florida — to open the doors to those oppressed by other governments for their religion. Politico reported in July of last year that the Trump administration considered slashing refugee admissions to zero. When you see the chaos in Hong Kong today, I think most Americans would agree that the American tradition of allowing good faith refugees from Hong Kong makes sense.

Our nation was founded by refugees. The first refugees who hit our shores 400 years ago were the Pilgrims who fled religious persecution in England. The 1965 immigration bill was a means to give preference to people fleeing communism from Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba and Soviet bloc nations and served as a tool to fight communism. Trump could use the refugee system to fight China by allowing refugees of the Chinese so-called national security law in Hong Kong to seek refuge here in the U.S.

The Trump administration’s fight against socialism should contain the same tools the U.S. used to defeat Soviet communism, including a refugee program that allows those targeted by communist governments to be safe here. Former Republican Rep. from Wisconsin Reid Ribble writes in The Wall Street Journal, “While President Trump has rightly critiqued the autocratic tendencies of socialism, on his administration’s watch the U.S. has increasingly turned away victims of communism and religious persecution.” He cites numbers showing a refugee admittance number coming down from 85,000 in 2016 to 18,000 this fiscal year, putting the country on track for a 90% decline in refugees.

Ribble cites one number that stands out. Only seven Cuban refugees have been resettled in the U.S. since the beginning of 2018. Think about the stories of Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to see two children of refugees from communist dictatorships that have gone on to be leaders of the Republican Party and role models for young Latinos. The past Trump administration position makes one worry about future leaders from Venezuela, Cuba and Hong Kong who will not be let in under the status quo.

The Refugee Council USA sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on July 13 making the case that the Hong Kong situation should be addressed through “utilizing the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) to resettle those who are in harm’s way and do not have other options for protection.” An upcoming Presidential Determination for next year could solve these problems, if the Trump administration can address fraud directly and restore some reasonable numbers of refugees to let in next year.

Let’s not abandon the least of these who need our help, and there are many across the globe who need a place to seek refuge from truly evil governments.

To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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