Tag Archives: refugees

Welcome to America . . . just bring your gas mask

You’re a refugee fleeing repression in a Latin American country. You trek to the southern border of the Land of Opportunity. You and your kids, maybe with your elderly parents, are greeted by U.S. Army soldiers and Marines.

Then you get gassed. Those troops deployed by the commander in chief are under orders to prevent everyone from entering the United States. One way to keep you out is to gas you.

This is no way, none at all, to manage the border. It is no way to prevent illegal immigration. The refugees who are seeking safe harbor from the tyrants who run their countries back “home” deserve something far better, more kind than what they’re receiving.

I have tasted tear gas. It got my snootful twice while training at Fort Lewis, Wash., in the summer and fall of 1968 in the U.S. Army. It really and truly sucks, man. The second douse came while I was low-crawling under barbed wire. Our sergeants popped a nausea agent. Yep . . . I puked!

This is how we intend to “greet” those who seek protection from those who would do them harm. Wow! I never would have thought I would see this happening in our country.


Non-politician POTUS earns his political chops rapidly

I have to hand it to Donald J. Trump. He campaigned for president as a non-politician, a self-made zillionaire who would surround himself with the “best people.”

Where do we stand? He’s been shown to be far from self-made and his “best people” have let the country down repeatedly during his time as president.

As for the non-politician thing, Trump is showing he’s a far better politician than he let on. Take this nonsensical notion of sending 5,200 active-duty military personnel to the southern border to block the horde of “invaders” traveling north from Latin America.

The “caravan” is dwindling by the hour. It’s still a long way from the southern border. Its numbers might not even be half the size of the force Trump is ordering to the new “front.”

However, the president is managing to whip up a frenzy among his base of supporters, he is energizing Republicans in advance of next Tuesday’s midterm election and he’s scaring the bejabbers out of Americans who actually believe the crap he spews about “Middle Eastern” terrorists infiltrating the massive crowd of invaders.

Trump is acting totally within his legal authority as commander in chief. He isn’t the first president to do such a thing. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama dispatched National Guard troops to help secure the border during their administrations. Trump’s order is a bit different. He is ordering active-duty ground troops to the border. The issue, though, is simply: Why? To do what, precisely?

These individuals are fleeing some of the most repressive regimes imaginable. El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and Guatemala are known to be cesspools of corruption and violence.

Yet the president refers to many of them, as he did on Fox News the other day, as young and sturdy men who are coming here to do … what? To rape our women? To commit various and sundry acts of violence against unsuspecting Americans?

This troop deployment is all a political stunt.

‘Middle Easterners’ in the caravan mix?

Donald J. “Fearmonger in Chief” Trump is at it again.

He said the “caravan” of refugees heading for our nation’s southern border contains “criminals” and “unknown Middle Easterners.” Does the president have any evidence of it?

Of course not! He never produces evidence of anything when he makes these bellicose assertions. It makes his crowds cheer. It fires him up. He speaks the language that his “base” understands and to which it is drawn.

The unknown Middle East component, of course, harkens back to 9/11 and the view being promoted by those on the far right that the Middle East is populated by millions of Muslims who “hate America” and will do whatever they can to do harm to Americans.

So now, according to Trump, they’re slipping into the crowd of Latin American refugees and are heading toward our soft underbelly.

I wish I had an answer to what we should do when that “caravan” arrives along our Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California borders. I don’t.

I do not believe the president is helping quell the fear of many Americans by suggesting — without attribution — the notion that the refugees are full of criminals and “Middle Easterners.”

No. Donald Trump is stoking the fear. That’s what he does. It is how he rolls.

Blog is taking wing … so to speak

Syrian internally displaced people walk in the Atme camp, along the Turkish border in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, on March 19, 2013. The conflict in Syria between rebel forces and pro-government troops has killed at least 70,000 people, and forced more than one million Syrians to seek refuge abroad. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC        (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

I don’t consider full-time blogging to be actual work.

It’s more like therapy for me. It keeps me engaged to the best of my ability, which I suppose depends on whether you agree with the opinions expressed in this forum.

So, when I decide to take a vacation, I like taking High Plains Blogger with me. Where I go with my wife, the laptop comes along and the blog keeps spewing out musings on this and/or that.

OK. So, here we go.

My wife, myself and the blog are getting set to take wing.

We’re heading soon for Germany and The Netherlands. We have friends in Bavaria — the pretty region of Germany — and in The Netherlands we intend to see. I’m going to get caught up with these folks, one of whom I met on a journalist field trip to Taipei, Taiwan in 2010, the others I met while traveling through Israel on a month-long Rotary International Group Study Exchange trip in 2009.

I have a couple of burning questions I’m going to ask people I meet during our stay in Western Europe.

*I want to know about the Middle East refugee situation in both countries. We keep hearing on this side of The Pond about the “flood” of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. What has been the impact of their arrival? Is it the “crisis” that we’ve been told it is? And what is the state of the nationalist fervor that appears to be building, particularly in Germany?

*The second question is a bit more straightforward. What’s the feeling in Europe about the state of the U.S. presidential election that’s going to pick up a serious head of steam. Particularly, what do the Europeans think of Donald J. Trump’s nomination by the Republican Party to be its candidate for president of the United States? I will do my level best to set my own bias aside as I glean the views of our German and Dutch hosts. Rest assured: We’ll talk also about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There is likely to be some more local color I’d like to provide as well.

Neither my wife and I have been to Germany or The Netherlands — although we did stop once in Frankfurt, Germany to change planes en route home from Athens in 2001. I don’t count airport stops, you know?

I am anxious to see my friends. I also am anxious to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of cultures that are much older than ours.

What’s more, I am anxious to obtain — to the extent I am able — a broader world view of the chaos that’s about to unfold in my own country as we make up our minds on who’s going to become the next Leader of the Free World.

Come to think of it, I might even ask Europeans whether they hold the U.S. president in such high regard.

Internet proves, um, wrong!


Back in the day — when I toiled at a daily newspaper — I actually had the following exchange with a reader of the paper who had submitted a letter to the editor and asked me to publish it.

Me: Are you sure about your facts here? This stuff looks kind of fishy to me.

Reader: Of course I’m sure. It’s the truth. I got it on the Internet.

Suffice to say we didn’t publish the individual’s letter.

The Internet is a lot of things. The purveyor of the whole truth all the time, though, is not one of them.

Breitbart.com posted a story that has Amarillo abuzz with concern. It describes the city as a haven for Middle East refugees and that the city is being “overrun” by them.

Not so, says Mayor Paul Harpole.

I’ve got to give Amarillo Globe-News reporter Kevin Welch huge props for exposing this nonsense.

Harpole said the city is working to control all immigrants, which include refugees. The issue isn’t limited to just those fleeing bloodshed and misery in the Middle East.

But according to the Welch’s story, Brietbart.com and some other conservative websites are disseminating bogus “information” about the state of affairs in little ol’ Amarillo, Texas.

It’s been a given for years that Amarillo has been a magnet of sorts for immigrants. Community faith-based and secular organizations have done a lot over the years to welcome immigrants, as Welch reported.

The city, though, isn’t being swarmed, swamped and swallowed up by hordes of refugees, as some Internet sites have said.

The fallacy of this kind of alleged “reporting” contains several lessons.

One of them ought to become required of all who consume news and commentary. It is that the Internet is a source for fiction far more frequently than it is a source for fact.


We are a nation of refugees


The debate over how — or whether — to welcome refugees to our land is continuing at full throttle.

It is dismaying to hear talk from presidential candidates that we should slam the door shut on Syrians — or Muslims — out of fear that some of them might be terrorists intent on harming Americans.

President Obama has declared several times, “That’s not who we are.”

Well, who are we?

By my reckoning, we are a nation founded and built by refugees.

You’ve learned about these individuals. They sailed to the New World to flee religious and political oppression. They came here in search of a new life. They encountered the indigenous population here and were met with mixed feelings by their new “hosts.”

The refugees persevered throughout most of the 17th century and into the 18th century. They rebelled eventually against the empire from which they had fled. They launched a revolution. The fighting ended in 1781 and a nation was created.

Those refugees then crafted a government built on a document that specified certain things. One of them would be that they would apply no religious test for those seeking political office.

However, some politicians today actually have said in the current climate that people of a certain religion are not “qualified” to seek public office. That’s not who we are, either.

Do we intend to live in fear? Are we doing to forsake the very principles on which those first refugees founded this great nation?

How about we take a break, look inward at just who we are as a people — as a nation?

How might those first refugees think of what has happened to their descendants and their reaction to world events?


Immigrant tide is reversing itself


The world remains focused on events in, say, Syria and Europe.

However, get a load of this item: More Mexican citizens returned to their home country over a five-year period than came into the United States.

The Pew Research Center said that from 2009 to 2014, more than 1 million Mexicans returned home while 870,000 of them came to the United States.

Does that change the debate in this country? Quite possibly.

Presidential candidates — particularly some of them on the Republican side — have made immigration a theme of the upcoming White House campaign.

I’m not at all sure what the trend suggests. Pew is a reliable research outfit, with findings that are well-documented. One theory being kicked around is that the Great Recession of 2008-09 in the United States removed an incentive for Mexican citizens to come to the United States in search of jobs.

The inflow of migrants could increase as the U.S. economy continues to improve, according to Mark Hugo Lopez, a Hispanic researcher for Pew. According to USA Today, “In coming years, he said, the number of Mexicans may increase again if the U.S. economy continues to improve. But steady growth of Mexico’s economy and tighter controls along the southwest border mean the United States won’t see another massive wave of legal and illegal immigration like it did in recent decades, when the number of Mexican-born immigrants ballooned from 3 million to nearly 13 million, he said.”

Lopez added that the era of Mexican migration might be at an end.

So, while our attention is diverted to places far away, we see some interesting trends right at our doorstep.

Don’t look for critics of U.S. immigration policy to proclaim this as good news. Indeed, if foreign nationals anywhere in the world can find prosperity at home, well, that reduces the strain on the Land of Opportunity.

I consider that to be good news.


Is the Islamic State ‘terrorizing’ us successfully?

  Syrian children march in the refugee camp in Jordan.  The number of Children in this camp exceeds 60% of the total number of refugees hence the name "Children's camp". Some of them lost their relatives, but others lost their parents.

Most of the United States’ governors have vowed to ban Syrian refugees from entering their states.

No surprise that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is one of them.

But I’m wondering: Is the Islamic State winning the propaganda war by compelling the governors to act as they have acted?

The refugee bans are being sought in the wake of the Paris attacks this past week. ISIL is claiming responsibility for the murderous attacks. It’s been reported that Syrian refugees were among the attackers; then again, it’s also been reported that the men who did the deed were European nationals.

I’m confused.

But … back to the point.

I remember when the 9/11 attacks occurred more than 14 years ago. President Bush told us then that we should go about living our lives as we’ve always done. To change our way of life, he said, would give the terrorists what they want.

Are we doing now what the president cautioned against?

I’ve heard the arguments for and against the refugee ban.

Those who support the ban say: We don’t know how to screen all the bad guys who might disguise themselves as “refugees.” We must put security first and foremost.

Those who oppose the ban counter: This restriction goes against the very principles upon which this nation was created. We cannot turn away “widows and orphans.” We’ve already allowed more than 1 million refugees from the Middle East and we’ve had zero terrorist attacks perpetrated by anyone who has come here from that part of the world.

Oh, boy. Where do we draw the line?

And are we now giving the Islamic State another propaganda tool to recruit new members simply by denying Muslims entry because we fear what might occur if we allow them to come here? And do we feed that propaganda machine by allowing only Christians into this country, but not Muslims?

I’ve heard Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush say we aren’t waging a war against Islam. Well, did both men misspeak?

I’m just askin’.


Troops to the border

The more I think about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to mobilize approximately 1,000 National Guard troops to patrol the Texas-Mexico border, the more ridiculous it sounds.

Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka had a brief post on it Monday. Here is most of what he posted: “What is the purpose of sending the Guard to the border? The National Guard is a military force. Is its mission military or humanitarian? Who is the giving the orders? What are the rules of engagement? Who is the enemy? Are the troops going to cross the border and invade a foreign country, as Pancho Villa did in Columbus, New Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution? Meanwhile, what happens to the refugees? And, by the way, what is this going to cost? These are good questions in search of answers.”

If there ever was a political stunt meant to appeal to an audience outside of Texas, the governor has just performed it — clumsily, I should add.

Perry’s decision is pure showboating.

As for the cost, it became known earlier today. The troops will cost the Texas treasury an estimated $12 million per month.

To do what? The National Guard has no jurisdiction in the effort to stem the tide of children fleeing their Central American nations. Fox News’s Brit Hume asked Perry about that very thing. The governor’s response? He said the troops were there for show. He knows they cannot arrest anyone, or that their “adversaries” are unarmed children who are surrendering in droves quite willingly to local police and federal Border Patrol agents.

The governor wants to run for president in 2016. This National Guard stunt is aimed at the Republican Party primary base in places like Iowa and New Hampshire that is going to eat this stuff up.

It’s another embarrassing display of grandstanding.

DREAM Act not related to current crisis

Let’s try to end this nonsensical discussion about whether the DREAM Act has played a role in the crisis on our southern border.

It hasn’t a thing to do with it.

The DREAM Act — which stands for Development, Relief, Education for Alien Minors — is intended to give a break those who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were children. It’s meant to clear a path toward citizenship if these individuals meet certain requirements.

The principle — supported by none other than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, among others — is to give those who have known only life in the United States to become citizens. It’s akin to Perry’s support of providing in-state public university tuition to these young Texans.

Some critics of President Obama have sought to suggest that the DREAM Act is a code for “amnesty” for the children who are flocking to this country from Central America. The actual attraction comes from a 2008 law signed by President Bush after it was approved unanimously by Congress. The law is intended to strike back against child pornographers and other human traffickers by making it more difficult to deport those who are here illegally.

With the border being choked with young refugees from Latin America, some now want to tweak that 2008 law to speed up the deportation process.

The hysterical criticism that gets tossed around, however, needs to be reeled in.

The border crisis really isn’t a function of a “porous border.” It’s a lengthy border along our southern flank, to be sure. However, to suggest that the U.S. Border Patrol isn’t doing its job requires one to examine all the children who have been taken into custody.

They are being held in detention centers. The system has been choked by the sheer volume of refugees who have fled here. It needs serious repair.

How about we deal with the real problem and stop casting blame in search of scapegoats?

The DREAM Act isn’t the problem.