Already Extreme Vetting

Most likely, over the next few days, we’ll hear a bunch of people try to stake out a middle ground that says, “the executive order goes too far, but it’s sensible to do more scrupulous vetting of refugees.” Sounds reasonable! But it doesn’t bear up under scrutiny.

Does anybody honestly believe we’re not already using all the available information to investigate refugees before we allow them to immigrate? Do you imagine that when we search for a criminal history, we choose not to check some of the available databases? That doesn’t sound like us. We are actively looking for reasons to reject applications, not the other way around.

Will a few refugees commit crimes if we let in a lot of refugees? Sure. Doesn’t mean our application process isn’t the best we can make it. Think about ivy league college applications, and how competitive the application process is for that handful of coveted spots – and how despite this, not everyone graduates, and oh yeah there are some rapes on campus. Think about the hiring process at Fortune 500 companies with vast HR and audit departments, and how embezzling still manages to occur. (Refugee screening is, of course, more rigorous than either of those nerve-wracking, drawn-out, paperwork-heavy audition processes.)

I’m not convinced it’s genuinely possible to do “extreme vetting.” Even with a wealth of data, you can’t tell for sure what someone’s going to do 10 years out – not even you. We all already know this, in our hearts of hearts.

If someone demands perfection, where perfect means “able to predict the future with complete accuracy,” it’s not a serious negotiating position. All you can really say is “let’s let x-number of people in, and make sure ICE agents have enough funding to do their work as sorters.” Anybody who doesn’t name a number is weasling around.

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