Sunday, January 24, 2016

New York Times hits Syrian refugee crisis with book-length article Sunday

Eliza Griswold has a feature story in the Sunday New York Times (in the Review section, I presume; with the blizzard, I don’t have a physical copy), “Why is it so difficult for Syrian refugees to get into the U.S.?

The booklet-length article starts with an account of a Syrian family suddenly caught in the crossfire of the Assad regime’s “protecting itself” after years of stability and prosperity.  Homes and businesses were raided without evidence of wrongdoing, sometimes because of rumors of activities of distant family members.

So far, 2,647 people (in a few hundred families)  have been settled out of 4.5 million potential refugees.  The article describes the vetting process in detail, and the effect of 9/11 and then of the Paris 11/13, where apparently one or more terrorists masqueraded as Trojan refugees.  The volume of the Syrian refugee crisis became apparent in early 2015, but the terror component didn’t take told with public fears until after the France attack.  It even is beginning to look like the Paris attack was partly deliberately motivated to provoke reckless statements by right-wing Americans seeking political office, especially Donald Trump.
The US has maintained a policy where it is difficult for non-profits, faith-based groups, and individuals to do much (legally) for refugees other than give money to reputable charities, and even some of these are controversial.  In the past, “memorandum of understanding” orders (as with the Mariel boat lift from Cuba in 1980 and Soviet Jews in the early 1990s) have allowed more personalized assistance.  That sounds like a very difficult sell this time.

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