Refugee Resettlement: Compassion Or Big Business?

Abraham H. Miller Emeritus Professor, University of Cincinnati
Font Size:

When it comes to the desperation of the Middle East Christian community, the American refugee entrepreneurs appear to be deaf, dumb, and blind. Nine voluntary agencies (“volags”) have a near monopoly as refugee resettlement contractors. And while there are many good and sincere people working in these agencies, for those who run them it is a multi-million dollar business, even if it is not for profit.

Among the heavy hitters are the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lutheran Social Services and the International Rescue Committee. Refugee resettlement is a mixture of compassion and business, with more regard for certain refugees than others.

The Obama administration’s program, whether by design or inaction, gives de facto preference to Muslim refugees from the Middle East over Christians and other minorities in the region.

Refugees are not designated as such unless they are residents of a camp run by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Day-to-day life in the camps is dominated by the overwhelming number of Muslims, who harass and abuse Christians and other minorities who dare come into the camps. As a consequence, few Christians and other minorities are willing to enter the camps, and the resettlement rates reflect that.

The volags are quick to note that the Middle East countries are 90 percent Muslim, so of course, the refugees are mostly Muslim. But that hardly explains why Christians are dramatically underrepresented in proportion to their numbers.

From his bully pulpit, President Obama denounced attempts to address this discrimination against Christians and other minorities as “shameful” and “not American,” preaching that “we don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”

Is this past president of the Harvard Law Review and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School ignorant of the law – or just patently more concerned for Muslims than for the other peoples of the Middle East?

As legal scholar and commentator Andrew McCarthy has noted, federal law “expressly” requires that the executive branch take religion into account in determining admission as a refugee.

How could it be otherwise, as religion is a primary reason for persecution in the world?

Islamist doctrine entitles ISIS to kill, rape, and sell into sexual slavery Christians and other minorities. Yes, ISIS kills Muslims who are not sufficiently devout, but its persecution of fellow Muslims bears little resemblance to its persecution of Christians and Yazidis, especially the women of these groups.

The European Parliament recognizes ISIS’ wanton murder of Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities as genocide. The Obama administration does not.

Content to follow the government’s lead, the volags have refrained from questioning government policy — unless of course it affects their bottom line. Consequently, the volags are quick to call for increasing the number of refugees.

Although for every dollar spent on refugees in America, we can provide far more aid by spending that dollar on refugees overseas, the volags want the refugees here, at least Muslim refugees. Of course, there is no economic incentive for the volags to lobby for refugees to be helped overseas.

When it comes to helping refugees, the volags could follow the example of British-Jewish peer George Weidenfeld, who honored the memories of those Christian-based organizations who rescued him nearly eight decades earlier from a different set of barbarians — the Nazis.

Working with the Polish government, Weidenfeld personally organized and paid for charters to fly Christians out of Syria to Poland for resettlement. Unlike the Obama administration, the Polish government is actively cooperating with the project.

Needless to say, Weidenfeld came under fire for not rescuing Muslims, but then the Muslims have the UNHCR, the Obama administration, and the volags to attend to their needs.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. @salomoncenter