Protect the United States, deny un-vetted refugees

December 21, 2015

Matt Kokkonen 3OPINION by MATT KOKKONEN

As a legal immigrant from Finland and being from a family whose members have been refugees, I have a personal perspective on the refugee issue during the war between Finland and Russia.

First of all, you should note that Obama laid out a template for handling refugees back in 2011 by signing an order to stop processing refugee requests from Iraq for six months. This resulted from an investigation by the FBI which uncovered evidence that several dozen Iraqi terrorists had infiltrated the United States two years earlier. But now Obama claims that to deny admission to refugees even though they harbor terrorists among them does not reflect true American values. So, how un-American was his order in 2011? Obama’s abject hypocrisy stinks.

The basic principle we must follow is that we need to know who is coming here. There is no data base of these mostly Syrian refugees. Without information on them we cannot vet them appropriately. The FBI even admits that it cannot determine who these refugees are, what their background is, or how many terrorists are among them. Consequently, we must first secure our nation against the very real of threat of terrorists being embedded among the refugees.

Russia attacked Finland in 1939 and neighboring Sweden took in thousands of young children from Finland. Of course, there were complete records on all children and their families. Also, nobody in Finland had ever planned to bomb the future host country of Sweden or to behead its citizens if they would not convert to protestant Christianity.

My three older siblings were taken in by three separate Swedish families. The languages are completely different, so the children had to learn a new language and different customs. Some of the young children, including my sister, forgot their mother tongue, did not know their parents anymore, and had another adjustment when they returned to Finland. The separation was difficult for the Finnish families and ended up being difficult for the host families as well when the children were repatriated. But this refugee arrangement was understood to be temporary until the end of the war, about five years later.

The investigation following the Paris murders confirmed that at least one of the attackers had entered Europe as a refugee with a Syrian passport. This in itself indicates a very real risk. Once refugees enter Europe, they can travel to the United States merely with a passport, without a visa. It would be lunacy on our part to grant refugees, or anyone else, entry into the United States if we cannot confirm their background.

Sweden just announced that it was closing its borders to refugees. Norway started to identify the persons crossing its borders. Germany is realizing that it is being overwhelmed by them. And interestingly, refugees in Finland are refusing its food, and some are leaving. Those in Hungary were throwing nutritious food containers to the street. Are they really refugees, opportunists or conquerors?

On the other hand, my wife and I took in a refugee family with three children from Africa. They fled with only five suitcases and left everything else behind. The family stayed with us for almost two years as refugees and they were granted permanent residency status. They are now US citizens. One of the parents is a college professor and the other one a high school mathematics teacher. The children are attending college. We are pleased for them. They were vetted and they came here legally as refugees.

In Europe, the refugees are a mix people from various Middle Eastern countries. The ones from Syria are of course from the safe areas, otherwise they could not have left. The vast majority, over 70 percent, are young men between 18 and 40. They are of military age, many of them having already fought in the Syrian war, who should stay in Syria to fight the radical Muslims and re-build their country. How many of them are terrorists? We simply don’t know. Yet the Syrian ambassador to India, Riad Abbas, commenting on the Paris attacks, stated that perhaps 20 percent of the refugees who went to Europe belonged to ISIL groups.

Their civic upbringing has taught them to not respect women by allowing women’s testimony to be worth only half of that of men. Their political ideology does not recognize democracy. Their government structure does not include separation of powers into executive, legislative and judicial branches. Their religious belief demands submission only to Islam and rejects separation of ecclesiastical from civil powers. And their legal and social systems are wrapped up in Shariah law, every part of which is fundamentally in conflict with the United States Constitution. Their mission in life is to subjugate or kill the infidels, which is anyone who is not Muslim.

No, our sense of sanity and desire to protect America mandates us to deny entry to those who cannot be vetted as well as those whose goal it is to make America Muslim by murdering our citizens and destroying our country of liberty.

Matt Kokkonen is a resident of San Luis Obispo, a legal immigrant from Finland, a graduate of Westmont College and a financial planner on the Central Coast for over 40 years. He is also a candidate for the 24th District Congressional seat currently held by Lois Capps


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Al S.

It’s nice to have input from someone who has been through the process, but I’m not sure that you qualify as an expert. Most of your opinion doesn’t seem to be backed up by facts, which is a little disconcerting. I am a very proud son of a Japanese American who fought the Nazis in WWII, this was only after being initially interned at the outbreak of the war. One can imagine the rhetoric then is pretty similar to what I hear from you now. Oh, and BTW, there are far easier ways to enter the US than through the refugee program. As an effort to battle what I see as fear mongering, I’ll post an article written by Scott Hicks a practicing Immigration Attorney.


Al Sadanaga

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Most of my friends know I practice Immigration law. As such, I have worked with the refugee community for over two decades. This post is long, but if you want actual information about the process, keep reading.


I can not tell you how frustrating it is to see the misinformation and outright lies that are being perpetuated about the refugee process and the Syrian refugees. So, here is a bit of information from the real world of someone who actually works and deals with this issue.


The refugee screening process is multi-layered and is very difficult to get through. Most people languish in temporary camps for months to years while their story is evaluated and checked.


First, you do not get to choose what country you might be resettled into. If you already have family (legal) in a country, that makes it more likely that you will go there to be with family, but other than that it is random. So, you can not simply walk into a refugee camp, show a document, and say, I want to go to America. Instead, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) works with the local authorities to try to take care of basic needs. Once the person/family is registered to receive basic necessities, they can be processed for resettlement. Many people are not interested in resettlement as they hope to return to their country and are hoping that the turmoil they fled will be resolved soon. In fact, most refugees in refugee events never resettle to a third country. Those that do want to resettle have to go through an extensive process.


Resettlement in the U.S. is a long process and takes many steps. The Refugee Admissions Program is jointly administered by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) in the Department of State, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within DHS conducts refugee interviews and determines individual eligibility for refugee status in the United States.


We evaluate refugees on a tiered system with three levels of priority.


First Priority are people who have suffered compelling persecution or for whom no other durable solution exists. These individuals are referred to the United States by UNHCR, or they are identified by the U.S. embassy or a non-governmental organization (NGO).


Second priority are groups of “special concern” to the United States. The Department of State determines these groups, with input from USCIS, UNHCR, and designated NGOs. At present, we prioritize certain persons from the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Iran, Burma, and Bhutan.


Third priority are relatives of refugees (parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21) who are already settled in the United States may be admitted as refugees. The U.S.-based relative must file an Affidavit of Relationship (AOR) and must be processed by DHS.


Before being allowed to come to the United States, each refugee must undergo an extensive interviewing, screening, and security clearance process conducted by Regional Refugee Coordinators and overseas Resettlement Support Centers (RSCs). Individuals generally must not already be firmly resettled (a legal term of art that would be a separate article). Just because one falls into the three priorities above does not guarantee admission to the United States.


The Immigration laws require that the individuals prove that they have a “well-founded fear,” (another legal term which would be a book.) This fear must be proved regardless of the person’s country, circumstance, or classification in a priority category. There are multiple interviews and people are challenged on discrepancies. I had a client who was not telling the truth on her age and the agency challenged her on it. Refugees are not simply admitted because they have a well founded fear. They still must show that they are not subject to exclusion under Section 212(a) of the INA. These grounds include serious health matters, moral or criminal matters, as well as security issues. In addition, they can be excluded for such things as polygamy, misrepresentation of facts on visa applications, smuggling, or previous deportations. Under some circumstances, the person may be eligible to have the ground waived.


At this point, a refugee can be conditionally accepted for resettlement. Then, the RSC sends a request for assurance of placement to the United States, and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) works with private voluntary agencies (VOLAG) to determine where the refugee will live. If the refugee does have family in the U.S., efforts will be made to resettle close to that family.


Every person accepted as a refugee for planned admission to the United States is conditional upon passing a medical examination and passing all security checks. Frankly, there is more screening of refugees than ever happens to get on an airplane. Of course, yes, no system can be 100% foolproof. But if that is your standard, then you better shut down the entire airline industry, close the borders, and stop all international commerce and shipping. Every one of those has been the source of entry of people and are much easier ways to gain access to the U.S. Only upon passing all of these checks (which involve basically every agency of the government involved in terrorist identification) can the person actually be approved to travel.


Before departing, refugees sign a promissory note to repay the United States for their travel costs. This travel loan is an interest-free loan that refugees begin to pay back six months after arriving in the country.


Once the VOLAG is notified of the travel plans, it must arrange for the reception of refugees at the airport and transportation to their housing at their final destination.

This process from start to finish averages 18 to 24 months, but I have seen it take years.


The reality is that about half of the refugees are children, another quarter are elderly. Almost all of the adults are either moms or couples coming with children. Each year the President, in consultation with Congress, determines the numerical ceiling for refugee admissions. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the proposed ceiling is 85,000. We have been averaging about 70,000 a year for the last number of years. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)


Over one-third of all refugee arrivals (35.1 percent, or 24,579) in FY 2015 came from the Near East/South Asia—a region that includes Iraq, Iran, Bhutan, and Afghanistan.

Another third of all refugee arrivals (32.1 percent, or 22,472) in FY 2015 came from Africa.

Over a quarter of all refugee arrivals (26.4 percent, or 18,469) in FY 2015 came from East Asia — a region that includes China, Vietnam, and Indonesia. (Source: Refugee Processing Center)


Finally, the process in Europe is different. I would be much more concerned that terrorists are infiltrating the European system because they are not nearly so extensive and thorough in their process.


Robert1

Every legal citizen of the USA should have to watch this before having any input whether or not we take in any more people.


Immigration, World Poverty – NumbersUSA.com

https://www.numbersusa.org/


kayaknut

The US government’s vetting process, “Question 1 – Are you a terrorist?, Question 2 – Are you telling us the truth?”, Okay welcome to the US.


Pelican1

Well spoken!


65buick

Another question to ask is: will those refugees assimilate?

If not, then all the other questions are pointless.


Slowerfaster

So …I’m pretty sure that you are Borg.


You might think ‘resistance is futile’, but I guess you haven’t met Hugh.


Matt K

How right you are. Immigrants used to come here to become Americans. Now they come here because Uncle Sam is Santa Claus. Germany has now changed its tune and recognizes that multi-culturalism has been a total failure. Muslim refugees have not assimilated in any country in Europe. They will not do that here either, but will start demanding Shariah for their own marriages, family disputes, banking, etc, just as England has given in already. All of that is contrary to our Constitution and legal system.


Slowerfaster

What are you afraid of ?


Seems to me that you have little faith in our Constitution and democracy.


kayaknut

Plenty of faith in the Constitution, no faith in the people who swear to uphold it.


Slowerfaster

I don’t have any faith in Republicans . They have NO honor !


They all are natural born liars. It’s a fact.


Rambunctious

I completely agree with Matt on this topic. I really do not understand anyone thinking this nation should open it’s doors to anyone and everyone that wants to come here. Fourteen years of being physically assaulted in line to board a plane. Seven different deadly terror attacks in the last 7 years on our soil. People are talking about closing part of the internet. You can’t go to a ball game without getting searched. When are some of you going to tire of this? I was tired of it years ago. Close the borders temporarily; go to Syria and kill the bad guys there before they come here…win this war and return sanity back to America. Thank God! some of you were not alive in 1943.


MrYan

We’re talking about Syrian immigrants who have been waiting in refugee camps for over 2 years in Jordan. Woman, children, and aged mainly. Syrians are not from a monolithic religious or ethnic group either, there a millions of Syrian Christians and other ethnic minorities in the mix of refugees. It should also be pointed out that there is only one Islamic Theocracy in the world and that is Iran, many of the other billion or so Muslims live in countries where representative democracy flourishes….the USA for example.


As a “Christian Country” we should know full well what we are to do with the stranger in our midst. No one ever said living with a Christian heart was easy thing to do Matt. Quit living in, and sewing, fear.


Perspicacious

The whole point is to vet out those that are deemed to be Islamic Radicals…some of them have been coming in through Syria. If you want to quit living in fear, tell your stupid president to stop blaming the NRA and gun owners for terrorist attacks.


Matt K

Thank you for the comment. However, it is based on ignorance of Islam. Islam is not only religion. It is a political, social, legal, economic system demanding total control of the world’s people, including America. There is not such thing as Islamic democracy. The Koran denies any other allegiance other than to Allah.


There is only one Koran. There is no “moderate” Koran. There is no teaching of a peaceful co-existance with Christians or Jews in the Koran. If they do not convert to Islam, they will be required to pay a tax and submit to being subservient. If they do not agree to that, they will be, and in fact are, killed. Why do you think Christians have now fled Syria and Iran? To not recognize this is dangerous and naive. If you want to help the Christians, who in fact are the most persecuted class of people in the world, why don’t you convince president Obama and the State Department to help them.


Shariah (Islamic law) is brutal. Western civilization and its legal system gradually replaced this in many parts of the globe. But now, with the creation of the caliphate, the Islamists are re-instituting Shariah. Ladies, are you willing to become the property of men, be totally subject to them, be forced to marry the man your father chooses, and be subjected to genital mutilation as is required by many Shariah countries? Koran teaches it is a requirement of Muslims to live in a country and ultimately attempt to convert it to Islam by force. Since the only assured way for a Muslim to enter paradise is to die in a jihad – religious war, they are willing to carry that out by even by suicide terrorism.


From my side, I am not willing to subject any Americans, including you, to that system and will oppose it.


joseywales

lets send you back for vetting.


Perspicacious

He is not Muslim…don’t be stupid. Don’t know of any terrorism history from Finnish immigrants.


Matt K

I was vetted, when I first applied for an immigrant visa at the age of 16, and then when I joined the Army – before I was a US citizen. Did you ever serve in the US Armed Forces, or did you just enjoy to fruit of those that have protected your right to mouth off?


joseywales

i can defend my own ability to mouth off and i dont have to brag about enabling the military industrial complex.


Casinogal

I understand Trump’s grandparents came to the USA in the 1800’s. How can we find out if they were properly ‘vetted’?

Maybe we could send the whole Trump family back to Germany? The current one would fit right in with the rising ‘white power’ segment in Germany………….


Kaiser Bill

Yeah because we had some huge problem with German and Scottish immigrants in the 1800s.


Lets continue to ignore reality so we can play this PC game and not hurt anybody’s feelings rather than coming out and stating that the problem is Moslem immigration.


Perspicacious

Don’t be dumb. The threat is Arabic/Islamic immigrants, not German immigrants from the 1800’s. Typical of you liberals…a bunch of hysterical psychobabble that doesn’t make any sense.


Slowerfaster

Trump’s paternal grandfather operated ‘restaurants’ that were not much more than fronts for whorehouses.


Matt K

What smart butt cuteness. The Islamic issue is clear and present, now. Please tell me how many Islamic terrorists lurked behind the Prussian or German flag back in the 1800s


Ted Slanders

Matt,


I believe it was 2486 individuals that fall under this situation.


mej

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.


Matt K

Thank you.