tv Lectures in History U.S. Refugee Policy Since World War II CSPAN August 28, 2021 8:01pm-9:01pm EDT
hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to europe at this very moment. can anyone tell me from what countries they are fleeing? layton okay, syria any other countries test? i'm sorry. kosovo okay, sarah. russia any other countries? stephen eritrea that's correct, patricio. jonathan korean that's correct. thank you. so they are traveling very long distances. to find refuge in europe and this map gives you an idea of the routes and the distances that they are traveling in order to reach safety.
some are traveling. alone others are traveling as part of family units. some are traveling in search of economic opportunity. others are literally fleeing for their lives. to escape war devastation rape and force conscription into armies the vast majority of the refugees are syrian can anyone tell me why the syrians are fleeing? okay. thank you albert. civil war absolutely, would anyone else like to then talk. okay. thank you meredith. was very violent and like people just need to kill the publicly and like and also the infrastructure who's having classes educ ation supporters that's like really know and that
there's no sign. of men absolutely, correct all of you. thank you. so this country has been locked in a bloody civil war for the past four years that has internally displaced one-third of its population that 7 million out of 21 million people. some four million people have been forced to cross international borders mostly to neighboring countries like jordan and lebanon. they are fleeing enormous devastation. last month the obama administration announced that it would increase the annual refugee quota over the next two years to assist with this humanitarian crisis. the annual quota which has been said at 70,000 to 80,000 for over a decade now will increase to a hundred thousand by the end of fiscal year 2017. presumably to accommodate a greater share of syrian refugees. within our immigration bureaucracy, there are several
tracks for admission and over the course of the semester. we've discussed some of those tracks of admission. today we are going to discuss two additional tracks the refugee and asylum tracks. as you know from your class readings americans have used the word refugee. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to describe a wide range of migration experiences. during the mid-19th century, for example americans referred to the germans fleeing the 1848 revolution in europe. as refugees in 1865 as part of the post-civil war reconstruction the federal government established an agency known as the bureau of refugees freedmen and abandoned lands more popularly known as the freedmen's bureau to assist the newly freed slaves. and during the mexican revolution of 1910 to 1920 and
estimated 1 million people fled mexico and settled in the southwestern united states. american journalists and politicians commonly referred to these people as refugees, but there are many other historical examples that we could point to. we have used the term refugee over and over again throughout american immigration history. however, today refugee has a very precise legal meaning. and that legal meaning has developed over the past 60 years as we will see in today's class. we don't see a distinct refugee policy until the end of world war ii. two congressional acts are generally considered the origins of american refugee policy the 1948 displaced persons act. and the 1953 refugee relief act. under these two programs the federal government allowed roughly 600,000 europeans to immigrate to the united states
over and beyond the established immigration quotas because it was deemed in the national interest. can anyone tell me why the truman and the eisenhower administration would have deemed it in the national interest to accommodate european refugees and displaced persons? anyone want to venture a guess? okay, sarah. i'm trying to. be like the better nation against the soviet union, right? so we are already locked in a cold war with the soviet union. we're battling for the hearts and minds of the developing world. this is a way of signaling to to the rest of the world our humanitarian commitment. any other reasons why truman and eisenhower's test so they wanted european stability. that was an interest of the us economically. absolutely. they wanted europeans stability. they wanted to assist in europe's post-war economic recovery. any other reasons reasons that you can think of?
well, these are all very good answers at the end of the war. there were an estimated 10 million people left homeless and in some cases stateless just in europe alone. truman wanted to accommodate a greater share of the displaced persons in order to assist europe's post-war recovery as tests pointed out. financial aid to the war-torn nations was not enough. he said the united states had a moral obligation to accept a number of the displaced persons in europe and yet congress resisted. even after americans became more fully aware of the horrors of the nazi death camps congress resisted. can anyone venture a guest or tell me why congress would have been so resistant at this time to accommodating displaced persons and refugees? you want to venture a guess? will bear in mind that at this moment in time the national
origins quotas are still in place. and so admitting people outside of those national origins quotas was a highly controversial idea. it was resisted on capitol hill. and when the displaced persons act finally passed it passed three years after the war had ended. even though president truman had advocated on behalf of the displaced persons. he was tempted to veto this particular bill that came out of congress because he felt that it was quote wholly inconsistent with american sense of justice and quote. but in the end he signed the legislation because he wanted to be able to assist some segment of the displaced population even though it was not the the bill that he was looking for. so why did he consider this to be inconsistent wholly inconsistent with american sense of justice because the war the the bill that came out of congress put so many
restrictions on who could be sponsored you had to be located in austria and germany for example, and you had to have been living there by 1945 and this excluded most of the jewish refugee population. the law was amended two years later in 19 in 1950. but by august of 1952 of the 415,000 europeans that were brought in as displaced persons only 80,000 of them were jewish refugees the majority of those who were granted visas to come to the united states were ethnic germans. president eisenhower also believed that much more had to be done to assist the countries of western europe countries that were still economically recovering from the war and now facing the additional burden of thousands of refugees that were fleeing the eastern black fleeing the newly emerging communist countries of the
eastern bloc and moving into western europe. this time congress responded with the refugee relief act of 1953. and this act granted $214,000 visas over the next two years to quote refugees expelli's and escapes. the law defined these terms in very particular ways. expellies and escapes were defined as those who fled communist countries while refugees were defined as those in danger of persecution anywhere in the world. however, because the vast majority of those who were admitted to the united states under the refugee relief act were fleeing communist countries the term refugee became synonymous with those who were fleeing communism at least in this country. refugee policy became a tool of
cold war foreign policy was a you a way of assisting those who were fleeing communism. but because the people who were fleeing communism well, let's just say there was a great deal of suspicion in the united states among americans about whether these individuals were truly democrat democracy loving freedom-loving individuals. so those who came from communist countries tended to be heavily screened because of american fears of sponsoring communist spies and saboteurs who would infiltrate the united states and to us harm cause harm to the united states. now as the cold war developed the united states was forced to deal with a number of humanitarian crises and these responses helped to further develop our refugee policy. in 1956 for example socialist revolutionaries in hungary
overthrew their pro-soviet communist government. and this prompted a violent crackdown on the part of the soviet union. within days of the soviet crackdown tens of thousands of hungarian refugees had fled into neighboring austria and yugoslavia some 200,000 hungarian refugees eventually took refuge in austria alone. and to accommodate these hungarian refugees the eisenhower administration used a little-known codisal in the 1952 mccarron walter act known as the parole authority. which allowed the attorney general to parole people into the united states without of visa and outside of immigration quotas if it was deemed in the national interest. the immigrant parolees could stay in the united states, but they could not become permanent residents or citizens. unless congress passed legislation that helped them normalize their status. eisenhower's this parole
authority to admit some 32,000 hungarian refugees into the united states just from austria and in additional 6,000 refugees were brought in under a variety of other visas. but because americans were concerned with sponsoring communist spies and saboteurs. the us refugees were brought to camp kilmer an old army base in new jersey where they were screened interviewed housed temporarily before they were released to their assigned american sponsor families. and on this photograph that you see here on the screen. we see vice president richard nixon meeting with hungarian refugee children around christmas time. the next humanitarian crisis came in cuba in 1959 fidel castro and his july 26th movement over through the government of fulgencio batista. and between 1959 and 1973
roughly half a million cubans were admitted to the united states the majority of them through the so-called freedom flights of the mid to late 1960s. in fact today this very day, december 1st marks the 50th anniversary of the very first of the first freedom flight from havana to miami international airport. the kennedy administration created the cuban refugee program to screen the refugees to find sponsors for them and to help them retool for life. in the united states by the time the cuban refugee program was phased out in the mid-1970s. the federal government had invested some 900 million dollars into a cuban refugee relief. now as i mentioned earlier those paroled into the united states could not become permanent residents or citizens. unless congress passed enabling legislation legislation that allowed them to normalize their status and this is what congress
did. congress passed the hungarian relief act of 1958 and the 1966 cuban adjustment act which allowed hungarians and cubans to become permanent residents of the united states after living just two years in the united states. so we begin to see the origins of the distinct refugee policy taking place in the 1950s and 1960s. now members of congress became increasingly concerned that the white house was using the parole authority much too much as a back door to bring in people into the united states outside of the established immigration quotas. so consequently when congress passed the heart cellar act of 1965, which we discussed a couple of weeks ago. they inserted a quota of 10,000 refugees per year. and once again refugee was defined as someone who fled a
communist communist dominated or communist occupied country. so we see that further association of the word refugee was someone who is flaying communism. this association of refugee with anti-communism continued through the 1970s. those admitted under the hartseller refugee quota almost all of them came from communist countries. and the executive branch continued to parole anti-communists outside of immigration quotas. and after the fall of saigon in 1975 some 130,000 refugees were admitted from vietnam cambodia and laos. and congress passed the indo-china migration and refugee assistance act to provide resettlement assistance to those 130,000 refugees. now the decision to admit
refugees was always contested. throughout the 1950s the 1960s and the 1970s public opinion polls showed that americans were generally sympathetic to those who were fleeing communism. but they didn't necessarily want them to come here. they didn't want them to come to the united states. they wanted them to go someplace else. back in 1956 for example, the eisenhower administration had to enlist the assistance of public relations firms from madison avenue to help them sell the idea of hungarian refugees to a reluctant american population. and these public relations firms worked with specific journalists who published story after story and news magazines like time newsweek and life portraying the hungarians as hard-working freedom-loving people the photograph that i showed earlier of vice president richard nixon meeting with the hungarian refugee children was part of that pr campaign to sell the idea of hungarian refugees to a
reluctant american population. but many americans were still not convinced. and 20 years later americans were even more resistant to accommodating southeast asians who they viewed as two culturally different. to be properly assimilated to the united states the pain of the vietnam war also probably had a great deal to do with that with that reluctance to sponsor southeast asian refugees. despite the news of squalid refugee camps in thailand and despite the news that hundreds of people were dying at sea to reach safety somewhere in the world less than one public opinion polls. tell us that less than one third of americans were in favor of sponsoring vietnamese or other southeast refugees on american soil. but despite this public opposition the white house always took the lead on refugee policy. they favored refugee admissions
for humanitarian reasons, but also as a tool of cold war foreign policy. refugees served an important symbolic function during the cold war they demonstrated the desirability of democracy over totalitarianism and they demonstrated the desirability of capitalism over communism. refugees went to great lengths to escape a communist country as you see here on the photo. these photos are of people from east berlin trying to reach west berlin or so as you see in these photos refugees. some refugees went to extraordinary lents. they went they built underground tunnels. they jumped over fences and walls in some cases. they built hot air balloons to fly them across international borders. they they demonstrated they symbolize the hunger on behalf of humans to to live in free societies or so. the argument went refugees were
also the highly skilled of their societies or in many cases. they were the highly skilled of their societies. and in some cases they brought important intelligence that informed our military policies overseas refugee scientists like albert einstein, excuse me okay. thank you. so refugee scientists like albert einstein and enrico ferdme played a key role in the development of nuclear physics in this country. and the united states also went to great lengths to bring in people that they considered the brightest into the united states. and as we discussed a couple of weeks ago the secretary of state even expunged the nazi records of people like werner von brown and some of his fellow nazi scientists so that they could work in us intelligence. and verna von braun and his fellow his team of scientists played a key role in the
development of the us space program. but refugees also informed our political life. think of henry kissinger madeleine albright the german political theorist hannah arendt they have played a key role but there are others they've played a cube role in shaping our political life. they've shaped our cultural life think of the actress, marlena dietrich. the hungarian composer bella bartok the austrian composer arnold stormberg and the russian french painter mark sagal but there are many many other refugees that we could highlight refugees have always played an important role in the political economic and cultural life of our nation. but public opinion polls tell us that americans were very concerned about accommodating refugees. no matter how noble the cause no matter how noble the individual.
in 1980 congress passed the refugee act and response to what they perceived to be the continuing misuse of the parole authority on the part of the executive branch in service of cold war foreign policy. and the 1980 refugee act tried to free the definition of refugee from its anti-communist connotations and instead they adopted the un definition of refugee. can anyone tell me the five protected categories in the un and the us definition of refugee? okay, then race religion nationality political opinion and like i member abs of correct. so a refugee must prove a well-founded fear of persecution as vivian noted based on race religion nationality membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
the refugee act also established a numerical quota they were tired of the executive branch bringing in indefinite number of refugees outside of immigration quotas, and they put a strict numerical limit on those refugees who could be brought into the united states. how is the refugee quota determined? can anyone tell me? and you won't want to venture gas. okay. well since 1980 the white house and consultation with congress establishes an annual refugee quota and carves up that quota according to that year's national priorities. so during the first year the quota was set at 50,000. it was eventually increased to 120,000. but since 9/11 the annual refugee quota has hovered at 70 to 80,000 per year. but as you see on this slide. we have never ever come close to
meeting the quota. the closest we came was 2013, which unfortunately has been cut off at the bottom of the slide that year in 2013. we came within a hundred slots of meeting the annual refugee quota of 70,000. but as you see on the slide here on the first column you see the annual ceiling and then the actual number of refugees who were admitted during that fiscal year, and we've never come close to meeting the annual refugee quota. despite attempts to bring the definition of refugee in line with international norms in practice anti-communism continued to be the ideological lens through which we determined who a refugee is. who would be prioritized for admission to the united states the vast majority of our refugees have come from just three countries the soviet union cuba? and vietnam now the end of the
cold war presented numerous humanitarian challenges for the united states. millions of people were displaced from their homes and forced to cross international borders as nations disappeared reconstituted themselves and politically realigned we've seen war civil and rest genocide natural disaster and far too many countries. by the end of the 1990s the first decade after the the i guess you could say the first decade of the post cold war period by the end of the 1990s there were 14 million refugees worldwide the majority of them women and children. in the post cold war period foreign policy interests continue to influence. comes into the united states but what we're seeing also in the post-cold war period is the growing importance of domestic advocacy groups. they're playing a much more
proactive role in shaping. the contours of refugee policy who is admitted to the united states those groups that have powerful advocates representing their interest before congress are much more successful in prying open the door to the united states. our system is highly responsive to advocacy. so let me give you a few examples. in 1990 the decision to give half of the refugee quota to soviet -- had a great deal to do with domestic pressure with domestic advocacy. during the administration of ronald reagan the white house had railed at the soviet leadership to allow the jewish refuse necks to leave the soviet union. they even made future trade with the united states contingent on improvements and soviet emigration policy. now the term refuse nick was was highly used during this period in the united states and europe
to refer to -- who had been consistently denied the right to emigrate by the soviet union. but when mikhail gorbachev came to power and instituted his policies of greater openness known as perestroika and glasnost -- were finally allowed to emigrate in greater and greater numbers. however as soviet policy became more liberalized there are chances for coming to the united states became more restricted. because the immigration and naturalization service the ins now argued that the -- could no longer claim persecution because the soviet union was easing up on its restrictions of the jewish population. so the reasons why the wanted to emigrate were slowly starting to evaporate. and it was american jewish groups who passionately advocated on behalf of the soviet refuse next and it was these groups that reminded the
bush and the clinton administrations of their obligation to accept those who had once been at the center of foreign policy negotiations, and it was this passionate advocacy on the part of american jewish groups that facilitated the entrance of over 358,000 former soviets most of them -- from 1990 to 1998. but here are some other examples. following the 1989 tiananmen square massacre congress worked hard to pass legislation to allow chinese students studying in the united states to remain here. many chinese students were afraid to return home because they had been vocal supporters of the student protesters at tiananmen. and now they were afraid to go home and perhaps face retaliation on the part of the government. president george herbert walker bush objected to these congressional initiatives and large part because he feared that it might strain diplomatic relations with beijing.
but in the end his administration bowed to domestic and congressional pressure. and the emergency chinese immigration relief act allowed some 80,000 chinese students and faculty to remain in the united states and become a permanent residence and citizens. here's another example of the importance of advocacy. during the 1990s many undocumented cuban boat people found asylum in the united states in large part because of the advocacy of the very vocal and politically influential cuban american community in south, florida. haitian both people by comparison were more likely to be called economic migrants despite the fact that they were fleeing equally or more repressive conditions. patients were much more likely to be detained and deported than where the cubans and this did not change until the congressional black caucus took
up their cause and forged a more humane response from congress. and then one final example of the importance of advocacy. the nicaraguan adjustments and central american relief act of 1997 this act allowed hundreds of thousands of central americans. to remain in the united states and this legislation was the result was the culmination of almost two decades of intensive. advocacy on the part of an unlikely coalition of allies of the political left and the political right. but there are many other examples that i could highlight here about the importance of advocacy and as many of you know, i have a new book that's coming out in the spring and in that book i discussed many of many other cases of the importance of advocacy. so advocacy has been key in the post-cold war period advocacy has been very important in shaping the contours of our refugee and asylum policy. but here are three other factors
that have affected policy in the post-cold war era. the first is the growing number of asylum seekers, so who can tell me the difference between a refugee and an asylee or an asylum seeker? kristen asylum seeker is essentially a refugee that's already made into their final destination country and is asking essentially to perceives sanctuary there whereas a refugees asking for different country absolutely, correct. yeah much has to do with where you're asking for protection a refugee is identified abroad for resettlement the united states. so refugee might come under the attention of say the united nations high commissioner for refugees who then contacts the united states or another third country and ask if that person can be resettled in the united states and then the person is subjected to intensive screening before they are allowed to immigrate to the us but in asylum seeker is essentially a refugee as kristen pointed out,
but the asylum seeker asks for protection on us soil they might do so at a port of entry like jfk or lax airports. they might do so at the us canada border or the us mexico border. or they might come in as a student or as a tourist and while there are here in the us they might ask for asylum so it has to do with location the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker has to do with location where you ask for protection from the united states. now during the 1990s alone half a million people requested asylum. and the numbers have continued to grow since then. are asylum system is overburdened and immigration judges must hear an extraordinary number of cases each day just to move through the backlog. the majority of asylum seekers do not receive asylum in the united states asylum seekers are not guaranteed legal representation. there is no due process as we
understand it in our justice system and legal representation makes all the difference in fiscal year 2010 for example, only 11% of those asylum seekers who did not have legal representation. we're successful in receiving asylum from the us having legal representation makes all the difference but most asylum seekers do not have legal representation. they either cannot afford it or they cannot receive pro bono representation because the system is just stretched too thin. so that's the first factor in the post cold war period something that makes us makes the post-cold war period different the growing number of asylum seekers. terrorism on us soil is a second factor that has affected the development of refugee and asylum policy in the post-cold war period as a result of terrorism on us soil the 1993 world trade center bombing and then of course 9/11 as a result
of that our immigration bureaucracy was completely revamped. and today's terrorists. i'm excuse me. today's refugees are the most vetted in us history to prevent would be terrorists from entering the united states and causing us harm. the state department now tells us that refugees can expect 18 to 24 months of vetting of screening. before they are moved through the system and and considered for admission the united states. but being on placed on a waiting list, even if you are successfully vetted and europe and and you are asked to wait that does not guarantee that you will be admitted to the united states. there is no waiting list per se even iraqi and afghan translators and other service personnel who have already been vetted to work with us armed forces in the middle east even they are not guaranteed admission to the united states. the asylum system has also been
revamped in order to the terrorist attacks of 1990s and and 9/11. three years after the 1993 world trade center bombing congress passed the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act. and this law had two provisions that affected asylum seekers in particular expedited removal and automatic detention. the immigration officer at a port of entry today now has enormous authority to decide on the spot if an asylum seeker has a credible fear of persecution, that should be further evaluated by an asylum officer or an immigration judge. but if the officer does not consider the person to have a credible fear of persecution he or she can order that person removed immediately from the united states and that process is known as expedited removal.
asylum seekers are now also generally held in detention until they're asylum hearing. if you have friends or relatives in the united states, you might be released to them if they are willing to assume responsibility for your care. it can be a year or more before in asylum seeker is given authorization to work. and in the meantime, you must rely on those friends and relatives for your livelihood. but more often than not you are held in detention because since 9/11 most of our immigration of bureaucracy would prefer to err on the side of caution and hold people in detention than to allow somebody to be released into society that might cause us harm. the third a third development that has affected us refugee policy since the end of the cold war is the growing number of people who do not meet the strict definition of refugee according to our law. as we discussed earlier refugee
has a very precisely legal meaning you must prove persecution because of race religion nationality membership in a particular social group or political opinion. but today's refugees and asylum seekers. do not always fall in very neatly into those five categories. and those people do that do not fall into those five categories present us with all sorts of moral challenges. so here are four talent four issues that are particularly challenging to policymakers today. can child soldiers receive refugee status? according to our law according to international law only civilians can be refugees. but over the past two decades some 300,000 children under the age of 18 had been conscripted against her will by one army or another to work as fighters as cooks. as servants as sexual slaves
prior to 9/11 a few hundred of these child soldiers succeeded in securing asylum in the united states and a few of them went on to write successful memoirs that called international attention to the plight of child soldiers. however, they are the exceptions since 9/11 most child soldiers have been denied entrance to the united states because anti-terrorist legislation passed in the wake of 9/11 bars the entrance of those who have offered material support to a known terrorist organization and many of the armies that conscript them against their will are on the terrorist watch list. here's challenge number two for policy makers. is there a better way to assist victims of trafficking? some 800,000 people are trafficked. each year for labor or for sex even our own little town of ithaca new york has seen victims of trafficking.
in order to receive protection from the united states under the trafficking victims protection act one must be willing to assist law enforcement which many are not willing to do because it would place their families and villages at risk of retaliation from international trafficking syndicates. thus victims are faced with two equally difficult options in order to receive protection from the united states. you have to be willing to testify against your abusers, but in order to guarantee the safety of your families and villages you must refrain from doing so is there a better way to assist victims of trafficking? that's a question that refugee advocates ask our policymakers all the time. challenge number three what do you do with children who arrive unaccompanied in the united states? thousands of children arrive in the united states by themselves each year to escape domestic
abuse gang violence poverty trafficking. the border crisis of 2014 which will recall from a few years back. called attention to the growing number of unaccompanied children who were fleeing the criminal violence in central america. but fleeing criminal violence in itself is not a legal ground for asylum. it doesn't it doesn't guarantee that you will receive asylum. those who do not have family here in the united states are quietly returned to their countries of origin. but refugee advocates ask is it moral to return children to dangerous conditions if their safety cannot be guaranteed? might there be another option. and then finally a fourth challenge that confronts our policymakers today. our victims of environmental disaster entitled to some type of protection. according to the united nations and the international organization for migration
climate change related migration could reach as high as 200 million by the year 2050 that's not too far into the future. fleeing natural disaster in itself is not grounds for receiving asylum or refugee status. there is another. option for victims of climate change the 1990 immigration act for example created a status known as tps temporary protected status. if you were already living in the if you were already in the united states say as a tourist or as a student and war breaks out in your country or there's some kind of environmental disaster that prevents you from returning home safely. you might be eligible for tps for temporary protected status. and the recipients of temporary protective status are authorized to remain and work here until the state department ascertains that conditions in your country
have improved sufficiently in order to guarantee a safe return. and at present nationals from 12 different countries are potentially eligible for temporary protected status. however, these individuals occupy a liminal space in our society. they are allowed to live and work here temporarily, but they're denied the chance to adjust their status to permanent resident or citizen except in a few exceptions, you know a few circumstances. so there are thousands of salvadorans and nicaraguans and hondurans who have held temporary status for over a decade without the chance of normalizing their status. they have raised their families here. they have paid payroll taxes. they have invested in their host societies. but they don't have a chance to to become full members of american society and our legislators at some point or another will have to decide
whether long-term residents under tps should be afforded the opportunity to become full citizens. and as you can imagine this proposition is sure to elicit a very heated debate in the halls of congress. so these are just four of the many challenges that our policymakers are confronting at this very moment. the unhcr the united nations high commissioner for refugees this past year announced that at present at this. moment right now, there are some 60 million refugees and displaced persons worldwide. that's 60 million. up from 14 million at the end of the 1990s. the us is among the 10 countries that carry out resettlement programs. with the united nations however, let me end with this sobering note.
as generous as our policy is and has been and i and my family are beneficiaries of that generosity when we immigrated from cuba. the number of refugees on asylees that the united states admits each year are just a drop in the bucket. fewer than 1% of refugees worldwide are ever resettled to third countries like the united states. it's the countries that border political. it's the countries that border areas of political conflict that have always born the real burden of accommodating refugees. refugee camps like zatari and jordan, which you see here on the screen. have become the size of cities. with the exception that the residents the people who live there do not have the chance to practice their professions. to run businesses to own property to move about freely to
choose where they're going to live. educational opportunities are largely absent the things that we take for granted in our day-to-day lives here are denied people who live in refugee camps. and around the world there are refugees who have lived in these circumstances for over a decade. they have raised their families in these conditions. it's all their children. no. but most of us geographically removed from places like zatari and suffering from what senator alan simpson once called compassion fatigue. were generally ignorant of their plight. so thank you for your attention. let's willing to i'm eager to hear your questions. so do you have any questions about any of the material? i've covered thus far or anything else that's on your mind. no tess. thank you.
yeah, that was in the in i forget which country in central africa, but it was one of one of the areas that was hard hit by a by flooding because you know, i it's there are so many people around the world who who are affected by typhoons by hurricanes by flooding by earthquakes by mudslides and they're becoming increasingly common as you know, and so as we talked about a couple of weeks ago many of the individuals who we consider to be political refugees today and in some ways they are also environmental refugees because when there is a natural disaster like an earthquake or as typhoon or a hurricane, it disrupts livelihoods and people are then forced to cross either move internally within their country or cross international bord. and when they move they put pressures on the population where they have settled and that
leads oftentimes leads to sectarian violence to political conflict and then before you know it you have a war or some some other type of civil unrest so many individuals today that we call political refugees moved in the first place because of environmental dislocation. so it's it's becoming increasingly hard to tease out the environmental refugees from the political refugees. thank you tess. any other questions? steven i'm going to ask about especially in the syrian crisis. so i wanted to know what is our thing the rest. of the refugee law and how was it changed or like the refugee style of laws for the countries and dancing and how they changed like? yeah. thank you for your question. steven was asking about what kind of refugee system is in place and many of the countries that have absorbed syrian
refugees and other refugees in the case of many countries that are host societies for refugees many of them are not signatories to the un convention on refugees or the 1967 protocol. so many of it's one of the it's it's somewhat startling, you know here are these countries that never signed this un convention on. refugees where they committed themselves to accept refugees. they've never signed those conventions and yet they have been forced because of circumstance to accommodate a number of refugees and jordan and in lebanon right now one quarter of the population of lebanon are syrian refugees. jordan has also accommodated tens of thousands of syrian refugees, and they've done so working with the united nations high commissioner for refugees to create these camps, but they're hoping that the camps will not be permanent that
eventually things will stabilize in syria so that people can return home because it is the goal of the unhcr and the international organization for migration and most, you know, most of the international community that refugees not be permanent residents, you know in in a society the goal is to house them temporarily until conditions stabilize and they can return home and when you look over the past 60 years there been a number of of cases where refugees have been able to return home. so for example in the case of guatemala after the 1996 peace accords many guatemalans who had settled in refugee camps in southern mexico were able to return home and rebuild their lives in in their old villages. and so that's the goal of the unhcr. thank you stephen. okay. thank you meredith about how there's programs set up for this even refugees to help them kind of ask me to american society.
are there a program set up for like steering ref? ugees on them. that's a good question. the question was is there anything comparable to the cuban refugee program for the syrian refugees the cuban refugee program was unique in american immigration history there has never been a program as generous as the one that was created to help the cubans retool for life in the us. it wasn't just the amount of money that was invested in the community. it was just the the programs how far reaching there were there were you know, the federal government helped create programs at the university of miami for example to help cuban doctors and lawyers and engineers learn english and pass this certification exams. that would allow them to practice their professions in the united states because they noticed that many of the cubans who were arriving during the 1960s were the highly skilled of their societies. they were professionals. they had skills that were important to the us economy, but
they couldn't practice so those professions in the us because they didn't speak english or they they needed to pass the certification exams that would allow them to practice those professions and so the cuban refugee program worked with local colleges in south florida, so that the cuban doctors and dentists and lawyers could these courses and retool for life. the united states but the cuban refugee program also helped individuals find established new careers. so so for example, the federal government noticed that there were many women who were arriving without their spouses in the united states because their spouses were imprisoned in cuba and these women had never worked in the labor force before and so the cuban refugee program helped train these women to work as secretaries to work as teachers or teacher aids in the dade county public school system the cuban refugee program.
also a distributed a monthly relief text to help pay the rent and surplus food like cheese and meat so that so that families wouldn't go hungry until they became financially established in the united states. that's a typical we have never seen a program like the cuban refugee program since in american society most refugees today. in syrian refugees come to the united states today. they are they qualify for the same assistance that other refugees receive which is that they are entitled to eight months of intensive assistance from the federal government. and so the federal government works with a number of relief agencies across the united states like catholic charities like the hebrew immigrant aid society highest the lutheran relief services and these agencies help place refugees around the country and and at the local level communities help refugees become established, but that assistance only lasts for
about eight months after that. the goal is that you will have found employment and that you will be on the way to be becoming fully integrated into us society. thank you. thanks. okay. thank you l. you mentioned how the quota has never been like filled before and now that like the obama administration is increasing it to 100,000. do you think it will still go like unfilled? thank you. thank you for the question of the question for those of you over here in case you didn't hear elle was asking if i thought that the quota, you know, once the quota is increased to 100,000 to accommodate more syrian refugees whether i think that quota will be filled. i don't think it will. i mean if past history is any indication and given how long it takes to vet a refugee for security reasons to come to the united states. it's highly doubtful that we will reach that 100,000 quota. thank you. kristen that we'll exceed like the usual 70 2018. yes, i think yes.
that's a good question. kristen asked whether we will exceed the 70 to 80,000. yes. i think we will i think we'll probably if i had to guess i think it'll be somewhere between 85 and 90,000 people who will be brought in. but but remember to spare in mind that that 100,000 are not all syrian refugees. i mean syrians are competing with refugees from other parts of the world. so the the quota has been expanded presumably to accommodate more syrian refugees, but it's not guaranteed that all those spaces will go to syrian refugees, right? okay. thank you louie. so i know that refugees have a unique legal status in the country. so how do things like a deportations work? so i know we have the expedited process for certain people force of entry right but once they're accepted as refugees. yeah, it seems like they can't really be deported. well they can if they commit a crime in the united states or if
they are discovered to have lied about their past in some way they can be deported if they have not become permanent residents. i mean once they become permanent residents and well even in some cases there have been cases of individuals who became citizens and we're stripped of their citizenship and deported. so, for example, we know of cases over the past 10 years of rwandan refugees who were later discovered to have lied about their participation and the genocide and once that information came to light these individuals who had normalized their status and become citizens. stripped of their citizenship and then put in removal proceedings deported to face to face the consequences back in their homeland. thank you. thank you louie. i mean sorry late. there's lots of talk about the screen processor refugees. it's a strict enough and that it would come a lot of terrorists through and also wondering okay. the question is if i could
comment on the screening process for refugees and whether whether it will allow would be terrorists to enter the united states. now no screening process is a hundred percent failproof. i mean, there's just no way to guarantee safety. there's just no way. however, i think it's it's less likely that it would be a terrorist will enter through the refugee track. you know if you've been reading the news many individuals who are opposed to syrian to bringing in more syrian refugees always highlight the example of the sarnay of brothers, but the zarnia brothers were not refugees. they came with their families they came as children with their parents as tourists to the united states and once they were on us soil, they asked for asylum and they were vetted. and they established roots here in the us. but there was no there was no
way to predict that these young men who immigrated as children would become radicalized on american soil and causes harm. but they did not come in as refugees. they did not come come in during the through the refugee track. i think it's less likely for a would-be terrorist to enter through the refugee track then through the tourist track. thank you for the question. any other questions? okay. thank you. just read out of state 70 long term plans from the future for large influences of refugees from brazilian natural disasters, or maybe even like disasters in our neighboring bordering countries to take in the large numbers of strategies. that's an excellent question. matt asked whether the us whether there are any policy debates underway about expanding a more humanitarian response to victims of climate change right climate migration president.
not not that i know of. i know that many of our think tanks many of our educational institutions are engaged in these conversations, but as we've discussed the word refugee has a very precisely legal meaning and in order to receive refugee status, we would need to reconsider perhaps expand our definition of refugee in order to accommodate people who who are victims of climate change now as i mentioned earlier? sometimes it's really hard to tease out the climate refuge from the political refugee. so if a victim of some kind of climate disaster can prove persecution based on one of these other five categories then yes that individual might be able to receive refugee status in the united states, but they solely on climate change or climate migration. no, it's highly doubtful. at least that present. there isn't any any move on congress to expand the definition of refugee that would take into account victims of
climate change, right? right. these are all great questions. thank you any other questions that you might have. okay. well then i'll wish you a wonderful afternoon. let me pass out the the final prompt. and and i'll wish you all a great afternoon. thank you so much for your attention. and thanks for the excellent questions. thanks. did you know you can listen to lectures and history on the go stream it as a podcast anywhere anytime. you're watching american history tv. watch book tv now on sundays on c-span 2 or find it online anytime at booktv.org its television for sirius readers. hello, my name is brad tobin. i'm the dean