Tag: travel ban

Tiny Boats in the Mediterranean

In light of the renewed US travel ban, I want to note that on Thursday about 970 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean by the Italian coast guard (with help from a Norwegian vessel). Those 970 people were crammed onto four rubber dinghies and two wooden boats (one larger, one small).

Picture that for a second. Picture how packed those boats have to have been. Picture stepping onto it, maybe with your children, feeling it dip and knowing that if it sunk, which would seem very possible, there would be no floatation devices and nobody who knew to look for you. (I myself feel nervous about open water even if I’m on a large cruise ship outfitted with radio equipment and lifeboats.)

You don’t get on a boat like that to go to a low-employment country which is by no means wealthy, unless you think that boat is less likely to be deadly than the place you came from.

I always hesitate to mention numbers like 15,000 in the first two months of 2017, up 50% from last year, because it’s the kind of thing that makes people who already fear foreigners get even more afraid. They’ll steal from us! No more room!

But if they’re not foreigners – if they’re the kind of people the story of the loaves and the fishes is about – the number that matters more is the people who didn’t arrive. We know for sure that 440 are missing already this year – started the sea journey and didn’t land anywhere. The real number is undoubtedly much higher.

Wonder how the travel ban – which includes primo refugee takeoff point Libya – is going to impact those Mediterranean migration levels.

There’s been some talk lately about Europe needing to step up on its NATO commitments to defense spending. Maybe the US needs to step up on some commitments to consequences-of-war spending.

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Catch Your Airplane

Report: Customs and Border Protection tells airlines ‘back to business as usual’” by Cyra Master in The Hill

Pat on the back, all. Which doesn’t mean we can relax now (I say while sipping tea, semi-reclined in front of a sunny window, watching cartoons), but that we should now become giddy with power and protest protest protest because we are the champions.

(Give “We Are the Champions” another listen to rev yourself up, if you haven’t already. You know Freddie, a gay man of Zoroastrian descent, born in what’s now Tanzania, who had a pre-existing medical condition toward the end of his life, would be out at the front of the crowd if he could.)

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.

My Money’s On Stupid

Trump’s immigration fiasco might be more premeditated than we think” by Kevin Drum at Mother Jones

I think this is an interesting take, but I don’t necessarily co-sign it, for a little reason I like to call recent Gallup polls Bannon has to be aware of. This administration doesn’t seem to care much about doing things people like, and has opted pretty consistently to take the OPPOSITE of a hearts-and-minds approach, so I’m not sure why this one thing would be different.

Frankly, I find it difficult to imagine anyone could do something like this as a “play” rather than an expression of sincerely held belief and conviction. They might think more people agree with them, butt I don’t believe, and have never believed, that they were race-baiting yet not themselves furiously racist. That doesn’t fit with my definitions of “not racist.”

But, you know, just in case: keep an eye on this.