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tv   Heritage Foundation Forum Explores Changes to Refugee Admissions Policy  CSPAN  September 23, 2017 3:15am-4:48am EDT

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tubman. >> we think she got epilepsy and opened it up for her to hear from god and heard voices and singing. it was terrible on the physical side but absolutely amazing for her faith. >> at 7:00 on oral histories, the series continues with eric draper. >> that image that shows dan bartlett, the communications director pointing to the tv, that was the first time we started seeing the replay of the second tower getting hit. >> american history tv all weekend every weekend only on c-span3. now, experts from the united nations and state department discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the u.s. refuge resettlement program. this heritage foundation event is 90 minutes.
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>> good morning. welcomed to the heritage foundation in our auditorium. we also welcome those joining us on our website and the c-span network this morning. for those inhouse we ask that you check to be sure our mobile devices have been silenced or turned off. for those watching online you are always welcome to send questions or comments e-mailing and we will post today's program on the heritage home page for everyone's future reference as well. welcoming our guests and introducing our program is our active vice president for research and recently served heritage as vice president of policy studies and director of davis institute. the founding editor of index over economic freedom which has become a signature heritage publication from 2002 to 2005, he served in the george w. bush
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administration as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs. please join me in welcoming dr. kim holm. kim. >> thank you. three minutes. good morning, everyone. welcome to the heritage foundation. it's a pleasure to welcome all of you here and welcome our distinguished guests to talk about the refuge policy. we just recently were refurbishing this room so you are one of the first guests to see how it turned out. the united states refuge admission program has been, as all of you know, the subject of significant discussion and legal battles within the last year. some legal battles have ended up in the supreme court which will hear arguments this fall. by the end of september, the trump administration should also determine how many refuges will
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be admitted for the next year. these events and these issues have evoked strong emotions on all sized of this debate. with the refuge program in the news, how should the u.s. policymakers be thinking about this, a question on a lot of people's minds. the first step is how it impacts u.s. national interests. it touch ms. aspects, homeland security, foreign policy, economic vitality and fiscal costs and, of course, the question of immigrating immigrants in the united states. to see how the refuge program affects these interests and assessment of its strengths and benefits and costs and weaknesses we think is needed. too often the studies and experts have looked at this question from just one point of
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view. so we have many points of view represented today, the best way to look at all sides of the issue so all of us can make a rational decision what should be done. from this point of view it is important we do have an open debate, how this works and how it can serve u.s. interest and for the better. there are aspects we should be keeping and some that should be changed. that is the purpose of this panel to have this discussion. we have the first of many speakers this morning. the senior member of the executive service and serves as director of the refuge admissions office of the u.s. department of states, population refuges and migration. he leads the statement departments programs abroad and
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united states that identify and process and receive refugees for permanent resettlement in the united states. we also have larry, who is the senior resettlement officer for the united nations high commissioner for refuges for their regional office in washington. he's been involved in refuge work since 1980. he became a caseworker for the international rescue committee and later worked with catholic charities of washington. before joining, he was with georgetown university and been with acr since 1987 and currently had its resettlement unit here in washington. joe cassidy is also a speaker here this morning, a global fellow and former fellow at the woodrow wilson international center for scholars where he explored potential reforms for international humanitarian systems and including refuge
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settlement program. he is previously a state department diplomat and served in the u.s. and south america. he also worked on the national security council, staff and security cooperation in europe. also, who will be moderating the panel is josh, a senior policy analyst for africa in the middle east. he served as a peace corps volunteer in zambia. then he worked for church world services, a refuge settlement operation based out of nairobi. he has worked as a u.s. special operations come manned and also at the atlantic council's africa center before he joined the heritage foundation. before i turn it over to josh for just a couple of points, all of the panelists will be
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available for interviews except for lawrence bartlett. while i have the floor, the heritage foundation has done a lot of research on this issue. in july there was a backgrounder entitled a road map for reform authored by david and sara and josh. david and sara has one coming out this week. >> it's available. >> available outside on the whole question of quotas and refuge programs. we've done a lot of research. without any further adieu, thank you once again for coming, gentleman and ill will turn it over to joshua to invite our first speaker to speak. >> appreciate it. larry, want to get us started? >> sure. happy to do that. in just one point although i'm happy to take press because we have an authorization process for that, if there are requests for the department of state we would certainly take those and
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get back to the press on those issues. first of all i'd like to thank the heritage foundation for inviting me and for the report they've issued on the program. i think it -- first of all, i thought it was very well done, very comprehensive. i think -- i couldn't say we would agree with every single point on the report but i think it was very balanced in terms of the issues facing the program today. certainly, the need to look at some of those issues and to see how they can be improved. it's something we have been doing since the program started, how it needs to be adjusted, improved or revamped to serve the interest of the american people as well as to serve refuge clients that we work with. we welcome all input. i think this was impacted very good in comprehensive report.
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a couple things i was asked to speak about the date department's role and how the process works, i think they did a very good job putting that to words as well. i'll go over some of those things and a little bit about discussion happening right now within the administration about where the program is headed over the next few years. again, i think the report did a good job really talking about resettlement as a very small tool that's used and has to be used judiciously because 99% of refuges in the world never have an opportunity to be resettled. it's incumbent upon us as a resettlement company and ncr to use this tool correctly. one of the debates happening now or discussions happening, who should those refuges be? who should be, i'll say, the lucky person who has the opportunity to be resettled,
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either to the u.s. or one of the other 29 countries in the world that resettle refuges. what we have done in our program is really look at vulnerability and look at those people even in a country of first asylum, like jordan, asyrian and jordan, is not doing well, is in a precarious situation in needs of a more permanent solution. that's one way to look at it. another is a look at refuges in protracted situations. we've been doing some of studies on behalf of the administration in the last few months. one of the interesting facts come out, now the average protected time for refuge is 26 years. true they can tread water for 26 years, there are still people within that population who will not thrive and perhaps not even survive. we're trying to look at those populations to see how we use this tool. one of the things we're not doing but a point of discussion is to really look hart at who's
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the best person in terms of assimilation. i know the report talks about this in a bit. we're primarily using this as humanitarian tool coupled with foreign policy entrance. and jordan and some of the refuges they're currently hosting we see as important foreign policy tool and part of our bilateral relationship with jordan and it plays into the overall interest that we have in common with the jordans of this world, with the kenyas of this world. it's a tool we can use and have used effectively to make sure borders remain open to the extent possible, to make sure people are not forcibly removed from countries and showing support for that hosting country. looking at and pivoting to asim
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millation for a minute, we want to look primarily at vulnerabilities. what do we need to do to help people assimilate. this has been a topic of discuss not just recently but for some time, there are tools we have and federal funding we provide. not just the department of state, also department of health services and immigration services, to help people not just make this transition, not just to find gainful employment to become self-sufficient but to really adapt to this new country. so english language is one component but also looking at how communities work together. again, i think the report is very good in the sense that it -- we don't expect people to become -- we want people to become an american. we certainly want them to adjust status and become a citizen. trying to define what that is in terms of american is such a complex and i think society that
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we have with all different ethnic groups and people from different backgrounds is an interesting question and probably open for debate. it's one of the things the current administration is interested in. we've already been having discussions at pretty high levels what additional programs we can provide to help people make this transition. the idea is they have a limited amount of federal support to make the transition. only goes up to eight months. people have access to other programs other americans might have access to. most of all we want them to take this opportunity and for the most part they do, to have a new opportunity for life, for their families and for their kids. we see and some of this is more antidotal than we like, refuges do very very well and one of the reasons we like to see more long term studies of success and
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failures so we can see those areas we should focus on more. are you going to time me? i will ramble. >> just a couple -- let me make a few more points. again, i think this election is really critical, one of the things we're looking at. once we selected people, the most vulnerable are not always the most uneducated. certain populations, iraqis are probably the model where people are highly educated but have their own difficulties making adjustment to their professional life in the u.s., part of it is the u.s. credentially system and some is willing. thaechl that's what hss has been looking at, how to promote those people to find jobs in their field, if not as a medical doctor right away, how do you make that transition back to the medical profession. >> the other piece we have seen
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great success, refuges who by and large have not had a lot of access to education for many years or legal work for many years, especially in their professionals, oftentimes take very entry level jobs in the u.s. we've been working very hard for some years with employers to make that possible and help people transition through some kind of career ladder to higher levels of employment. it's pretty traditional that the hotel industry, meat packing plants and other entry level jobs are open to refuges. they're not competing with many american jobs and taking jobs otherwise unfilled. refuges frankly do quite well. we've been petitioned by some in this industry to resettle more refuges than their locations because they find refuges to be such good workers.
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i'll speak a couple things in terms of current administration reviews and priorities. one is refuge vetting. i think everybody knows we're now under 120 day suspension on arrivals. there's a small cadre of people who have a bona fide relationship still allowed to enter. for the most part refuges are halted until close to the end of october. we've taken this 100 day period to review security vetting procedures currently in place, working, the state department, department of homeland security is working closely with the vetting partners, so the fbi, national counter-terrorism center, others who actually perform the vetting to really see how those can be improved. the report correctly notes refuges are the most highly vetted immigrant coming to the united states. that has been borne out by the current administration doing these reviews, we still want to see where improvements can be
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made. we know there will be vulnerabilities and we need to try to close those vulnerabilities as we can. the vetting review is really key. we have also been tasked with doing cost studies, what is a cost to resettle refuges to the u.s. how does that compare to the cost of providing assistance overseas. those studies are not yet finished. as i mentioned earlier, we are looking at assimilation programs improvements. the state department and health & human services as well as department of homeland security are looking to see what we can do to improve that. i think the ongoing question is what will the size of the program be this next year. this year, the president capped arrivals at 50,000. there is now discussion, as was noted earlier, about what the program will be next year. that decision has not yet been made but we expect it to be made before the end of september.
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i think i would leave it at that and turn it back to josh. >> thanks. >> thank you, josh and thanks to the heritage for the opportunity to be here today and the nhr. i want to say thank you for the report of the chair's comments. i thought it provided a number of interesting comments for discussion. i'd like to focus in my talk towards the end, particularly some areas i think we'd find a lot of common ground. i've been asked to talk about the international aspect of the resettlement process of receivings. let me do that and add reflexes on report giving it more specifically. for those who don't know us, hr's refuge agency, our main job around the world is to provide protection and assistance and solutions for refuges.
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we're primarily a field-based organization, places like washington are a little bit of an exception to the rule. staff is serving in many areas of conflict and often on both sides of the line. you look at syria, we're in syria and working with syrian refuges, a delicate diplomatic dance we have to do to make sure we're there to assist persons in need. currently, we're in 130 countries, we don't do our work alone. we work with other host governments with the united states who provide funding and assistance. and partners like the world food program, who are key, international organization and migration. we work with ngos, the red cross and others. we work in various modes. at the moment, you've probably seen in the news the rohingya
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going into dabangladesh and we work in emergency circumstances where everythings may be 5-10 years and also engages as larry mentioned refuge populations now 20-30 years refuges as well. all these activities are generally done and have to be done in cooperation with host government. our estimate for the number of refuges under the mandate doesn't including the pal zinnians under -- palestinians are part of a displaced population around the world, forcibly displaced of about 65 million persons including stateless persons as well as the pl palestinians under the agreement. the settlement also is, i would
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say, an important but, in terms of scale, not the largest of our activities when you take the look at assistance of protection. the real challenge for nhr work is to identify people we think have these heightened vulnerabilities, heightened needs relative to the other receivings out of that 17.5 million people in a way that's efficient and meets the needs of resettlement countries and serves obviously the refuges in many cases provide some sort of benefit to host countries often hosting massive numbers of refuges. september of last year there was a meeting at the u.n. general assembly that focused specifically on resettlement trying to encourage a more robust response for settlement
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needs at that time and we continued to hold out about 10% of the world's refuges probably should be resettled. that would be about 1.7 million refuges would be the estimate of need and countries introduced to new settlement programs and countries to step forward and rejoin the resettlement. we're up to the latest statistics, 31, countries involved in resettlement. we see some increases last year. the most notable upswing responses were in europe where the unatr has been pushing for some time for europeans to step forward and take more individuals. at the same time, i will note europe is host manage direct asylum seekers. sometimes that's a little bit of tough sell in europe but they have increased numbers. >> you take the total number of
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offered slots from the u.s., canada, european countries and the field and countries in south america, it really still only adds up to about a 5-8% range of being able to respond to the total receiving needs. that's really what we're trying to do is to looking through that 1.7 million need to be able to address 5-8% of those. beyond initial identification would be to prioritize who it is and will be put forward and to which countries. clearly, there's still a need for us and something that will continue to get countries to join in, doing resettlement, to look at other alternative solutions countries might provide as long as they provide protection and security that resettlement does, and to also encourage countries to continue
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to maintain resettlement capacity, particularly again traditional countries like the united states, canada and australia, who are vital to resettlement. for our role, vis-a-vis resettlement country directly we're making, it's important to understand the united states' role is only to identify and present cases to countries. there's no country, including the united states, where we can make that country resettle someone. we work with countries to decide what kind of information needs to be presented to be adjudicated. ultimately countries are sovereign and make the decision who will and will not be resettled. we cannot compel any country to take refuges. there is no international obligation to resettle refuges in the same way the report says by signing the refuge convention
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obligations to consider asylum seeker applications. but on resettlement, it is voluntary activity. i think it's a very important voluntary activity because providing funding is one way to show support for support for refuges, giving money is one thing. providing actual settlement places is a more visible way even though it's a small number of support, particularly for those countries hosting millions of refuges. i think it would be fair to say next to taxes, probably immigration is the most complicated thing most people ever have to deal with. fortunately there isn't too much of an intersection between taxes and refuges, as i'm seeing. it is a complex involving both the overseas component where there are many actors involved as well as the domestic side.
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in recent years one of the overarching elements on both sides is security and fraud where every player has become more -- become better at preventing fraud, identifying fraud and dealing with misrepresentation in the program. one area unhr is invested fully in, biometrics. biometric registration is now the norm for unhtr. we have about 4 million people registered in the biometric systems, one is an iris scan system used principally with the syrians, 99% are registered with iris scans and the other is the biometric management system. it isn't the un so we have other acronyms, known as bims.
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that is the new standard rolled out in africa and asia including iris scans as well as finger point collection. at this point we have 88 countries with biometrics registrations and 4 million individuals overall. i will quickly add one of the key elements for having biometric, when you hear referrings will be refuges 5, 10, 15, 20 years, being able to lock down at the earliest possible point the identity the person is giving us and claiming, and that there's continuity and traceability in that identity. our goal is to have 75 countries, virtually almost all our operations with biometric capacity by 2020. i would mention we have initiated with the state department and department of homeland security already a system whereby the u.s. has access to our iris guard
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database for syrians as part of the fraud control measures for the syrian program. briefly on statistics, so far through the first half of the year -- sorry, i don't have the last month -- we have 45,000 individuals referred for resettlement during the first half of the year. that's down somewhat from last year. about 50% of the destinations to europe, 40% to the u.s. and the remainder, australia, canada and the other countries. finishing up quickly, a few reactions to the report again i think unhr welcomes this report and thinks it's well documented and well argued, like larry and the state department, probably areas we wouldn't be in complete agreement, not surprisingly. i think there are many areas we
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do share the views of the reports in principle or specifics. we appreciate the commitment to keep a sustained program going in the united states and one safe and secure. we share a view, as the numbers bear out, resettlement is not the option for most refuges in 99.5% of refuges will not be resettled. nhr does not have a position on the right of migration. we are involved actually in the system of legal migration following very specific rules and working with countries under those rules. certainly, the report's emphasis on the need to improve and constantly monitor integrity of the program, as larry said, to make sure we don't have precious places being used by people who don't deserve to be resettled that should not be in the system who are taking away from other
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people who should be resettled is paramount to us. it's like having a rare limited drug. it can provide a great healing and giving it to the wrong people. that would be a waste. we shared we have to make sure these numbers go to the correct people. i mentioned the biometrics and new databases we put out, we mentioned in the report these are actually interconnected at this point. when you do check biometrics in one country you will be checking them with all countries and unhr at this point in a realtime operation. finally, although unhr is not directly involved in the domestic side, what happens to refuges when they arrive in the united states, we certainly share globally an interest with all resettlement countries having more information about
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outcomes of resettlement and how we do it, are we doing well or not, both from the refuge's standpoint and community receiving refuges. in the long run, that's the sustainability of the program. we would welcome not just from the u.s. but all countries because i think it's not unique to the u.s., a more systematic regular recording because it will help us manage our programs to know if we're making correct decisions, if there's anything we can do on our side overseas to make the programs run better and we need proper research, independent, neutral, i think, research that gets out into communities and gives us really good feedback. with that, i'll say, thank you for the opportunity. i do have some comments in the report. hoping we can get into those
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more. >> thank you, larry. >> thank you, josh. always good to have and i will refer to as larry squared. >> some of the same things said this morning. >> i want to give congratulations to larry, josh and david, put together a really nice report. it's obviously very timely. it's nuanced and carefully argued in a way that's not always common on these issues right now. so, as you all know, the debate over refuge issues seems to be marked by the extremes right now. i think what the heritage report does very well is it reminds us of a separate debate, a more interesting debate among experts who may not agree on all the specifics but acknowledge there is a need for reform of the resettlement system and looking
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for the right answers. kudos to all three of you. appreciate your work. i've been asked to focus on asimulation, something i've written about a good bit. i will start by saying i was really happy the heritage report identifies assimilation as one of the three takeaways. if the other key takeaways over systemic reform and need to identify the best most capable candidates for a settlement, those are directly relevant to assimilation. i think that's good news. let me do a quick sidetrack on nomenclature. as you all are aware, there's a spirited debate on referring issues. a lot of folks who talk about assimilation and folks who talk about integration and a lot of folks on one side use one word and refuse to use the other. i see those two as different and
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complimentary. i don't feel any need to choose between the two. when you hear people talk about integration, generally what they're talking about is participation in economic and political structures. when you hear people talk about assimilation, you tend to hear them talk about civic values. those are both goods and i think we want to pur see both of those. in my remarks this morning i want to talk about things people commonly think about in assimilation or integration. what would an assimilation centric refuge resettlement process look like and how would it be different from the process we have right now. let me turn three phases, prearrival phase, reception phase and long term settlement phase. in prearrival, i agree with the heritage report there is some value in choosing candidates most likely to succeed in
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resettlement. i think there are sort of broader benefits we can all understand from that. but i want to add two caveats. the first is that it is worth drilling down on. the second one is i think we need to make sure when we're talking about reform that we preserve space in the resettlement program for it to do the hardest work. so you have heard larry and larry talk about how the u.s. program in particular identifies people who are the most vulnerable, these people are generally not safe or won't be successful in their current situations, and i think a longtime hallmark of the u.s. program is we would resettle these tough places and we need to reserve space for that. and they ask refugees whether
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they plan to adhere to the laws, and americans generally are uneasy about the prospect of government administering idealogical tests, and we should be. i think we should be wary about that, but i can imagine some sort of a process that would address these values issues as part of the vetting process. it would have to be very carefully designed, but if well designed, i can imagine it different a number of important things. one, weeding out security risks or helping to, at least. two, re-enforcing norms or expectations of conduct for behavior in our country. and also three, potentially dissuading those who are unwilling to accept those norms
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and conventions. again, to wrap up, i think we need to be very careful about this idea, whatever kind of values discussion we have with potential resettlement candidates, it would have to be nonpartisan, it would have to be nonsectarian, it would have to be universally applied, and it would have to steer clear of the constant constitutional debates that we have in this country already. we want to focus on core american issues and not just stuck in the more partisan of issues. so turning to the reception phase, i think we need to do a much better job in preparing refugees for america. and to give you a sense, i was a foreign service officer for a long time, spent a lot of time abroad, and every time i came back to the united states, even if it was after sort of a two or three-year tour, i faced some element of culture shock, right? america is a complicated face,
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in your face, it moves fast. i think we need to do a better job preparing refugees for the culture shock of america. especially because so many of them come from a context that's very depressed. i think this training needs to start before they arrive. i think it needs to be more detailed than it is currently and it needs to be blunt about the challenges in the united states. which we all know, but i think we need to have some honesty in the process. second, i think we need to do a better job at skills and educational assessments on the ground. this is data that can be shared with american school systems, health care planning, data that could be shared with potential employers. it could lead to vocational training. the international community in general is not doing a very good job at assessing skills and attributes.
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third thing here, civics education. i think we could do a lot both prearrival and postarrival to teach people who are on track to become new american citizens, to teach them basic civics. that would be useful. then finally, english language training. there's no greater barrier toward integration into american communities than assimilation as an american than the ability to speak the language. i think we need to do a better job there. in terms of all these training aspects, i think that we could do a better job taking advantage of some of the online education resources out there. so as you guys know, in the last generation, huge revelation, all these models of web-based education to tap into. and turning to the post-resettlement phase, which is in some ways where i think we have the most work to do. so as larry and larry's remarks indicated, i think we should say
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more explicitly, if we're looking to grade success or failure of resettlement, that's not the greeting period is not the first three months or the first year. the greeting period is the first five years or the first decade or the first decade and a half. i think we need to do a better job with long-term monitoring and support for people joining our communities. this, by the way, would help address one of the concerns that we have heard before about generation 1.5. so younger people who don't have strong ties to their country of origin and may not be developing strong ties to their country of resettlement. so the long-term monitoring support, i think we need to do a better job than we're doing right now working with local host communities. so these are all the people who have to provide the support for
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these resettled refugees. this is local planners and government types, school, health, social worker, mental health administrators, local law enforcement, a whole series of characters out there, and i think we're not adequately looking at their needs in trying to facilitate the entry to america of these populations. i have written something, and by the way, i think this is what i'm thinking of is a position that would be more broad than the current setup where hhs has office of resettlement, refugee resettlement regional coordinators. what i'm thinking of is a facility that would be able to coordinate all of these disparate actors and also to stage or choreograph interventions as necessary, so as you'll understand, humans are complicated. we bang into each other a lot. so think about refugees who, children who may be having trouble at school, who may have disagreements with neighbors, who may be fighting with the
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local zoning board, who may be have a workplace disagreement. these are the kind of things that are natural and human and normal. but it's much more difficult for a resettled refugee to solve these problems than it would be for an american citizen. i think we need to do a better job at creating some facility to make these interventions. which by the way, would go a great distance to preventing resentment and long-term alienation, which is something we will want to avoid. okay. and i'll just wrap up real quick. i'm aware there's lots of long-term studies going on. unhr is doing a research project right now.
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i'm teaching a course at yale and we're working in parallel with the unhcr effort. there's great work done by cities and states to gather data. urban institute i think has one. i think there's a lot going on, and what i would counsel is that all those data streams be brought together in an organized way. i think that would be useful in getting a full analysis of the program. so just in closing, i'll get up on my hobby horse and say i don't think there's a more important element of rescue
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resettlement than this assimilation integration. it's key to the national security issues involved. it's key to economic prosperity issues. to the political community issues. and it's key to our humanitarian values. including making sure that refugees resettled in the united states become success stories, which is what we all want. so i think we need to get it right, and i'm committed to working with these guys to find a way. >> thanks. i'll throw it over to myself now. so i'm going to just run quickly through the highlights of this report that we have all been, all of the other panelists have been talking about. they have done a good job of covering most of these topics so it will be hopefully not too much redundancy. i wanted to start, though, by discussing the benefits that we found as we went through this studying the benefits of the system or of the program,
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rather, and again, some of these have been touched on, but i'll run through them quickly anyway. so helping allies and partners. fairly obvious one. but it is meaningful, and i would suggest that even though we're frequently talking about a very few number, a very small number of refugees, resettlement does appear to have some sort of outside impact as far as both the symbolism of it and also how countries appreciate the united states. and other countries resettling refugees out of their territory. and one of the primary issues here is that frequently, refugees wind up in countries that are themselves quite strained already and don't have the resources or have other existing issues that make it difficult for them to deal with large influxes of people. so there are other ways to help refugees, of course, resettlement is not our main effort, but it does appear to have somewhat of an outsized impact on these countries as we demonstrate our value of their partnerships and help them as we can. a related note is resettlement strengthens u.s. public diplomacy. public diplomacy is the story we tell to the citizens of other
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countries. and you know, part of the u.s.'s influence on the international stage derives from our status as a moral actor, as a humane actor. that directly affects our ability to use our influence on the global stage, and this is something we can point to as one of the reasons why we should have moral standing. so a third point, this is a way for the u.s. to lead on foreign crises. i believe the world is a safe place when the u.s. is in a leadership position. this is something that demonstrates u.s. engagement and leadership. similarly, it gives a way for the u.s. to respond to retractable crises, so sometimes there are conflicts and problems throughout the world that the u.s. genuinely can't do much about, but resettlement is something that the u.s. can do in all of these situations. and finally, of course, the most obvious one is that resettlement
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does alleviate human suffering. the u.s. has a long tradition of humanitarian activity and resettlement is an obvious keeping with that tradition. so the two major focuses of the paper ended up being the question of security, which most people who are in this debate, most people are focused on. and then assimilation, which has already been talked about quite a bit. refugees, as we have already heard, are the most heavily vetted of all immigrants to the united states. a very complex process, and you can read more about it in the report. i won't belabor it here. something else that we thought about as we looked at the vetting process, though, is it's a very long process, and resettlement in general is an uncertain process. so if you're a terrorist looking to gain access to the united states, this isn't a great option for you. one, your chances of being selected for resettlement are
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very small, and two, it's a quite long process, and you are being quite heavily scrutinized. so for those reasons, we think the security challenges associated are actually not as pronounced on the vetting side of things. but the reality is no vetting system can weed out all potential bad actors. so we create a system that can see into the hearts and minds of those we're trying to vet, we're going to run that risk of someone getting through. there are improvements we can make. we lay out a number of suggestions in the paper on how we think we can tighten up vetting. there are things that immigration services can do. moving to person centric vetting, a one-stop shop for all the information the u.s. has gathered on the person, they can make more easily accessible and shareable. and then resettlement, which we have already discussed here, but particularly emphasizing credibility in that process. i think what was perhaps most striking for us when we looked at the security -- the related security issues here was that
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those people who came to the united states as refugees who then later engaged in islamist terrorist activity or related activity, the great majority of them radicalized here in the united states. it was very rare for someone to be resettled and immediately turn around and engage in that sort of activity. many of them had been in the u.s. for decades even or longer. >> so i don't -- i don't want to try to sound arrogant or anything. i actually want mvp in that tournament, though. i'm just telling you. but it was -- it was -- i know that's terrible. that's just awful, but the beautiful part about that was, you know, some of the guys that were out there playing were people who dropped out of the school system, some of the -- sometimes trouble makers in the neighborhood and i was able to spend some time with those guys to bond with them and to tell them that, you know, i need them to help me to prevent from -- to prevent from what happened to them happening to their relatives, the youngsters that
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are in my school system. i formed a relationship just a different relationship with a lot of people in the community just by getting out here and just getting into the trenches and doing these types of things. it's very critical. we just have -- we have -- i just want to try to keep us up to time. invest in your community. kcps connect was something that we did so, you know, get some fancy shirts. we were out at one of the grocery stores and we just hung out in front of the grocery store. we went and knocked on some doors and just introduced ourselves to some of the
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families in the community and as people were coming in and out of the grocery stores we just strategically sat there and shook hands. we helped people put their bags in their car. we just found a way to get out into the community and interact with them and to let them know that we embrace the community. we want the community to also embrace us and we felt that that was very critical and we'll go through that because that's actually the video for it. and craft a strategic plan.
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attacks are perpetrated by people from this 1.5 generation. so that sort of naturally led us into the second major focus of assimilation. and joe did a very good job of unpacking this. and we, i think definitions are really important because it is a somewhat contested word and people debate it. but we just simply define it as a superseding loyalty to fellow americans, the u.s., and its values. now, that's a little bit vague. but i think most of us would sort of inherently understand generally what we think of as american values. and we just -- you know, we made a conscious decision to use the word assimilation because integration, the other word you frequently hear, we agree like integration is key, but assimilation, the values question to us, appeared to be the most important part of this and was the best predictor of refugee success. i think it stands to sort an obvious reason that if you have a deep affinity and love for the united states you are not going to be -- you are not going to involve yourself in islamist terrorist activity. that's -- you know, terrorist rhetoric is frequently virulently anti-american. that's one aspect of course. that's on the security side of things. there is also the issue of just
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the quality of life of refugees who come here and the health of the overall society that's accepting them. and of course the u.s. is famously a nation of immigrants. what distinguishes the u.s., i would argue, is this history of people coming here and adopting u.s. values and seeing themselves first as americans. and that's been the glue that's held the country together throughout its years. you know, non-assimilation -- there's negative consequences to non-assimilation. and, again, we spoke about the radicalization part of it. or that potential link. but it also seems that non-assimilation frequently leads to isolation from mainstream society, can lead to the formation of enclaves that -- and unfortunately, our european friends have a few examples of this where, you know, very negative outcomes for the people living there, higher unemployment, thing of that nature. assimilation is not the silver
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bullet, of course, you can have poverty, you can have crime, et cetera, even with assimilated people. but it seems clear that assimilation facilitates a happier and -- or higher quality of life. that's why -- and assimilation, it's hard to measure. and think as policy or thinking from a policy perfective, like how does a government official
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help someone assimilate, that's hard. and that's why most of our recommendations ended up focusing on civil society. and we think sort of non-government entities have a leading role to play in this challenge here. so bringing civic groups together, trying to rally them and many of them are already involved in this process, but trying to bring them more deeply into the process of welcoming refugees and trying to bring them into the mainstream of
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society. we do think that the u.s. government needs to put together an assimilation strategy that affects all levels of the resettlement process. and we think it should look at ideas like private resettlement, which the canadians do. so private resettlement is when private individuals can sponsor refugees to come to, in this case, canada. and then they are essentially responsible for them for some period of time, usually a year. sometimes it can be longer. and refugees who have gone through that program report much higher satisfaction with their experience, their outcomes are better, educational, income, thing of that nature. and, again, to us, that was another indication of how important it is to move refugees into mainstream society as quickly as possible.
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so as -- you know, as we've discussed on this panel, we can't take in huge numbers of refugees. and there is no indication that we are going to, and no country is. it is a very small percentage that will ever be resettled. we need to focus, as we are doing now, most of our money on where we can help the most refugees. and that is overseas. it's the most cost-effective way to help the largest number of refugees. but there are benefits to resettling some refugees as we lay out in the paper. and for that reason, we think that the program, with some reforms, with implementing some of the suggestions that we've put forward could be improved even further. and i'll just echo. i think everyone mentioned this one, which was gratifying. but we do need these long term assessments of refugee outcomes. it was very frustrating to study
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this and the best you could get was a report that gave some anecdotes you know five years out. so we really need a systematic, a longitudinal survey that tracks refugee outcomes. because that will help policy makers hopefully formulate better policies that will benefit both the refugees and the u.s. in general. so that brings us to the end of our sort of prepared remarks. we will move right to q & a. i'll give the normal caveats. if you have a question, please do make it a question. and pith is always valued. you can either direct it to a specific individual or to the panel and we will divvy it up among ourselves. we have a microphone and please wait for a microphone and identify yourself. >> why do many white americans are calling president trump racist or bigot when all he is
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trying to do is not make america another england or european country where you have explosion monthly if not weekly? i can give you my own example. i was in pakistan and i was stopped at the airport. i am muslim. my name is homeland. she interviewed me for 45 minutes. and wanted to send me back to pakistan. i told her, i have a return ticket. i showed her e-mail with department of state where asked me that i should leave the country as soon as possible because my life is not safe there. i have nothing against this lady who wanted to send me. i asked her this question. i said have you realized that i have been in d.c. for more than 30 years, and you are not even born.she was from eastern europe and has heavy accent. however, she feel she doesn't want me to come to this state.
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>> your question. >> oh, yeah. i this woman, if she were white i would call her racist. she told me i cannot give you citizenship. i have nothing against. i keep getting questions, why are people arresting you? three people. at the airport, the woman who is birarely and president trump. they have nothing against muslim, they just want to keep america a little different. europe they have made themselves very insecure. >> do you have a question. >> why are people calling president trump racist and a bigot while he just want to keep the america safe? >> okay. sure. well, i can't speak for people who call him those sorts of things. >> people like you. >> i have never called him a racist or a bigot. it's politics. and people throw around charges that maybe they upon later
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reflection might regret. or not. but i you know, it's just something i can't really speak to, honestly, because it's well outside my area of experience. >> i also don't want to specifically speak to that, but there are couple of things i heard in there i would like to speak to. one is, and i think it's been pointed out through the summer, i mean the fact -- i want to intersect that with the refugee program versus people that are seeking asylum in europe and some of the press over the summer over the last year about people arriving without proper security vetting. and you mentioned perhaps in terms of travel, restrictions on travel. i think there is nothing that the u.s. government takes more seriously than making sure that people who arrive here that we have responsible for that arrive here for their settlement program have been security vetted upon their arrival. i heard that. i know that wasn't your main question but i think it is an
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important point the make. asylum seekers, we have to consider whether or not they have a refugee claim or whether or not they have a right to be in the united states. but those who we are affirmatively bringing here must pass all of our tests to our level of satisfaction. they have no inherent right to come here. that was one thing i did want to mention. >> i think that point is well taken. our -- the refugee resettlement program is very, very different from what is happening in europe where they do have millions of people coming in, which is an immense challenge to manage that number and to vet that number safely.
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the u.s. rap is very different. this is a controlled, small program, where there is heavy vetting and things of that nature. >> from the epoch times. you said that you appreciated the report but there were some parts of it that you didn't agree with. could you specify some of the parts that you disagree with. >> who wants it? >> i'll let larry go first. i -- >> i would say a couple of the things. one in particular, although i think as we discussed it, maybe i have read it a little bit too
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strictly, is taking case only vulnerable and not necessarily people who have been in a refugee situation for long time. an example would be the bhutanese who the u.s. has taken and who were in a camp for 15 years through multiple negotiations after which bhutan agreed the take back three out of 100,000 in the u.s. and other countries offered resettlement at that time.
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i think that was, while there was no imminent danger, while there were some dangers in the region, i wouldn't say that looking at all refugees everywhere they would rise into what some refugees from other places would run into. i would say after 13 negotiations it was ruled out that bhutan was ever going to take these people out. the nepali government expressed interest in integrating some but 100,000, no. i think there are times that looking at some of the other groups. i also think the other element again just on the assimilation side is ensuring that you have a sustainable mix of refugees in for example, families. for example, an elderly person might look on paper like not particularly able to integrate or assimilate easily.
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yet that person may play an important role in the family in providing child care so that the parents can go to work or to provide some of the guidance to those 1.5 generations. because i think if you -- part of what we see often is when we have i think large cohorts of young people -- the 1.5 generation coincides pretty much with where there is a lot of problems with people that are that age, whether they are refugees or not. if you look at crimes and some of the things in the news. so having, and particularly traditional groups where elders play a role in setting the norms for the community is such, i think being a little bit mindful of making sure we have the right mix. the final thing i would mention, because i have run into this
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with other countries. not the u.s. so much, is if you take all just vulnerable cases you end up with a fairly -- on all your cases, if everybody is tortured, needy, et cetera. having a broader mix sometimes also i think provides for a more sustainable community because you will have people who are able to work and such. so it's -- for us, it's always, as we are trying to do, you look, looking at who needs resettlement those are things that run through your mind. because you do have to have sustainable family units, sustainable communities. you want functional, particularly for people who are coming out of very non-functional areas. want to add somethingan that. because you know we speak about criteria of vulnerability and selection. not nerve the family has the same level of vulnerability. this policy is used for foreign
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policy cases as well. we think about the case of the bhutanese. arguably, people weren't highly vulnerable. they were simply stuck forever in frankly a stateless situation where their citizenship to bhutan was not recognized and nepal would not welcome them as nepali. they had been out of the country frankly for 100 years. they were ethnic nepali but not nepali. the idea that everybody is the most vulnerable and everybody has the same types of fragility and difficulties i think is wrong. part of our interest is to look at vulnerability as one of the key factors that we consider. again, i think it -- i think it is an open question again as to what -- what makes the best person in terms of assimilation f. that's going to be one of the criteria. i agree it should not be the criteria.
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what are the factors that go into that? and how can we work through that issue in a way that i think still is responsible way to look at the underpinnings of this program, which you know is based on humanitarian principals, based on foreign policy principles, and yet helping people make that movement to assimilation, not just economic security and job security, but you know adopting american values. the one thing i would point out, partly because it's one that keeps up coming constantly, is when we work with unhr to identify refugees sometimes we identify groups. i know this report specifically suggested that we might identify victims of isis as a group. i think it is a bit of -- again, maybe it's a bit of a misnomer. we don't need to specify groups in order to address problems. so victims of isis, you know, whether they show up in turkey, whether they are still inside iraq, are identified by unhr and the international community as extremely, some of the most extremely vulnerable people in the world. we have a small scale program to address some of those needs for
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resettlement. we don't need to call them out as a group. that sometimes helps, when it is a large number that we are resettling. but if we are looking at people self identifying either as a religious minority or perhaps an ethnic minority, that creates fraud issues for the program because sometimes people then want to identify when that's not even true. so, again, it's part of our fraud mid-mitigation strategy that we have unhcr generally in the forefront of identification, locking in identities as you heard when people cross borders, which is five years before resettlement would ever be considered. and only at that time considering should that pesche be a candidate for international resettlement. we try lock in that group's identity as well as the individual vulnerabilities. that's why sometimes i think having this group identification isn't helpful.
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i have a question for mr. cassidy. you seem reluctant to see refugees ask ideological questions as to their values. as regards the laws of the united states as all citizens are bound by the same laws, why do you see or do you see refugees asking whether they will obey those laws as a questionable, a question? >> let me start by correcting you. and say that i'm not reluctant. i guess what i -- where i come down on these issues is that we need to exercise great care. so i think, as i hope i said, and forgive me if this was not clear enough in my presentation. but i do think that we could incorporate more of the values discussion into that interaction
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with someone who is potentially a resettle refugee coming into united states. but to say the obvious, in america, we have a lot of ongoing constitutional disputes right now. like there is a lot of -- there is a lack of unanimity on many of our major political questions. so i think that what we would need to do, what would be essential, is to focus on things that are core american values and avoid going down paths that could lead to sort of sectarian or partisan political interpretation of what those values are. i think one potential model though before i throw this out, i'll say i'm not -- i have reservations about this, too. but one potential model is the citizenship exam, which does -- is constructed to try to avoid
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these current political disputes that we have right now, constitutional questions that are still open. it tries to avoid sectarian partisan political views. i think that's the right way to go. i think that will -- a process of engaging potential resettled refugees on those core american values is more likely to identify the candidates who would will become the best resettlement candidates in the united states and ultimately the best fellowship as they go on to become citizens of the united states. >> one thing that i would add. i think it's often a little overlooked and it was actually a thing i mentioned. the refugee convention besides
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the obligation of state. two is the obligation of refugees to the states they are in, which is to follow the laws and regulations and to keep good public order in those states where they are recognized as refugees. i think there is actually an international legal principle to refer to as you we look at doing this. it is a requirement of being recognized as refugee. but as he is saying, defining what that is becomes the question. but there isn't a question that the refugee is, by being recognized, their part of the bargain is to agree to abide by
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the laws of the country that is recognizing them. and to go beyond that, to keep the public order. which when you do all the research on that, beyond that, to be part of the community and i think to be not causing problems. so i think that that there is a basis for that. and i would say there are countries that do have statements that people sign. but going back to joe's point you can sign a statement in a refugee camp and it won't mean anything. so you have to build something around that. maybe signing the statement is the impetus to have the bigger discussions, like you are going to be signing a statement, this is what this is really going to mean. is he i mean, there is
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international precedent that unhr has worked with. making it meaningful is the real challenge. you want people to understand it not just sign a piece of paper. >> sure. >> hi. niecy hamilton with the diana davis spencer foundation. thank you for this panel. i'm still confused about something kind of basic. has to do with a definition. given that what we are seeing in the newspapers about refugees and that the populations of those refugees are people fleeing from places of war and instability and isis, but only isis among many other problems, i just want to know what our definition of refugee is. i mean, isn't it still based on the immigration and national immigration act that it's a fear of persecution? and if so, why are we not using that as a metric as opposed to what i keep hearing you say is most vulnerable. are we morphing away from a -- from the old definition? >> let me give it a try. so. so there is the definition of what is a refugee. and you have it right. it is a well founded fear of persecution or a past persecution. it's either fearing it or having experienced it. unhr has a responsibility on the international side or frankly
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the hosting government. let's say jordan in this case has a responsibility for determining those people who are coming into their country whether or not they are refugee. oftentime, unhr assists with that. when we resettle somebody to the u.s. an official from the department of homeland security. an american employee of homeland security conducts the interview overseas for a person who has been referred to us either via unhcr or perhaps the u.s. ambassador. and even though the unhcr has conferred original refugee status on them, if you will, we do that again and frankly, the u.s. definition is very, very similar to the unhcr international definition but that has to be jude kated again.
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and a person has to be able to articulate an individual fear or past experience of persecution in order to qualify under u.s. law. so it is not just everybody who flees syria is a refugee. that is done on an individual basis when we consider somebody for resettlement. >> can i add one more thing on that? >> so al the wilson center, my colleagues and i have done some work to think through international law reform. so your question is, we could have another panel maybe on reforming the refugee convention at some point but your question is a good sort of arrow pointing at a broader question, which is whether the wego situation right
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now is correct. as larry said, five criteria in the unhcr itself, those are the law and those are the basis on which we make our divisions. those were created in 1951. that was a different world then. there are protections that would be created in a refugee treaty that are absent. i would give you an important one. gender is not there. and there are some things, there is a social group in the construction and interpretation of that that has been used more broadly to broaden this out. but there are -- there are lots of smart people thinking through what we would need to do to adjust international law to bring it up to speed now and deal with new situations, including to throw one out on the table, the prospect that people may be forced to flee by sort of you know, global climate change, things like that that are nowhere considered in the refugee convention. so your question is a good one. there's a lot of ferment right now. i think to describe the parameters of that debate i
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would say that humanitarians understand the weaknesses of international law and the things that are missing. but also want very much to make sure that if we do undertake a process of legal reform that we would do it in a way that protects the protections that are currently in refugee law right now. >> maybe i would say one thing about the vulnerability piece. unhcr has the 17.5 million refugees. they have looking at vulnerability as to who they will refer. once they refer those people to a government, in this case ours, it's at that point that we will look again at whether or not they are a refugee. so the vulnerability is the component. but it's not the overarching need is that they be a refugee. within that we are looking to see who are those people we should resettle. >> ma'am? >> i'm brigada mollican, a german legal immigrant. the question i'm going to ask can be answered by any of you. i am a product of a refugee from russia, which is poland, where my father was from. this is from world war ii.
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he went to west germany and left germany in 1956. so we immigrated to america, family of five. i was 7 years old, i became a u.s. citizen when i was 18. i'm very interested in this subject. and i know that you have talked about the fact there are so many refugees that need to be taken care of and we can only take x number or percent. i'm real lee upset that we can't take everybody in. it costs a lot of money a lot to do this. all of the countries that are trying. my question is, what can be done to solve the problem to keep having refugees that need a place to go. my thought is, gee, dad, why couldn't you go back to your homeland, couldn't something something have been done where you could have gone back to your homeland. the whole family left, went to germany where families took them
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in. and over time applying for the immigration we came to the united states and went through a lot of what you talked about. and it was one of those successful families. my father worked, my mother worked. . they raised six children. i was the caretaker for three of them. my question is, what we we do instead of trying to take 1% of the refugees in, what can we do to -- i think of this of mexico -- what can we do to cause things to change. they all want to come here. can we spend money in a different manner. could something have happened after world war ii where my father could have gone back? you get my gist. >> let me take a small stab and then i'll let others, too. first of all the report was very good at highlighting the vast majority of u.s. taxpayer money frankly that is used for refugee
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is used overseas. it's unfortunate that on the humanitarian side our funding is basically used to help people who are waiting to go home. you know, they are the people who were in west germany hoping to go back to poland or russia some day when it becomes safe. on the humanitarian side we are helping people wait until a time when it becomes safe. it'san fortunate piece of the world right now where these conflicts are protracted. i don't know anyone who is predigiting when it will be safe to really go back to syria. there are some parts that may be safe but vast parts that are not. eng we just have this infortunate situation where people were displaced. as was noted they are often displaced to countries that don't have the economic means to provide support. they are not as well off as a place like the u.s. turkey, jordan, uganda, a tanzania that are all hosting
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large numbers of refugees really don't have the resource. so what we can do in the first instance is help them shelter. and we do that primarily through funding through the u.n., but also through other mechanisms to help them shelter those refugees. but you are right. the way that you alleviate the situation is to resolve conflict so that people can go home. and when it happens -- it has happened. it's not like it has never happened. kosovo was one where when the conditions were safe and when that conflict ended within 30 days a million people i think went home. it was unbelievable. and they didn't wait for people to tell them it was okay. i think unhcr at the time, and i'm poking fun, said we are not ready, we don't have shelter, winter is coming, we don't have schools. and people just said i'm going home. this is my home. they ran across the border as
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fast as they could and put roofs on their houses and remade their country, which is what they wanted to do. i think this idea that we have, is a little bit self serving sometimes that this is the best country in the world and everybody wants to come here. the first part of that may be true but the second part isn't. people -- as you said with your family, peep want to go home. that's where they have land, language, that's where they have culture. again, what we can do, i think as a people, not just as a government, to help people return we should of course always strive to make that the first solution. but i think it's just unfortunate right now the way the world exists that's largely not possible. >> can i jump in on that, too? so i was really privileged during my career at the state department to be able the work
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with lots of humanitarian organizations and ngos. there is this great nobility as i hope all of us would agree with humanitarian work. folks who go in after earthquakes or hurricanes or disease outbreaks. but one of the things that i find especially noble about humanitarian workers is they know that the full -- their full effort will only solve problems in a small way. and what they count on is that other people, including diplomats and other development agencies, things like that, will be trying to make the world a place where the root causes don't result in destruction and war and flight. but the root causes facilitate healthy societies that can take care of themselves and don't
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produce refugees. so, et cetera a one of the -- you know, i love both of these guys to death. and one of the reasons i find humanitarians so inspiring is because they work on difficult things and hope that other people are fixing the things under their control, too. >> we have time for one more quick question. >> hi. i'm katie wong with ntdtv. my question is we know the administration is trying to maybe thinking about shrinking the number of refugees they are going to accept in the next year. then about that maybe affect the criteria that you use to evaluate those refugees who are most vulnerable or could be a potential threat to the national security and so on? >> good question. i mean, first of all, the discussions haven't completed yet for what the structure of the program next year will look like. i think i can say in broad terms that the program -- the fundamental values of the
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program i don't think will change. i mean, that we are still going to look at vulnerability. we are going to look at assimilation. that's clearly been talked about within the administration. we are going to look at how we use this as a foreign policy tool, which means how do we help some of our key allies by using this program strategically. but i don't think we will see -- i mean, the numbers will diminish. we know that now. last year we brought in 85,000. and this year the president was very clear that we should limit our program to 50,000. we know that the number overall will diminish but i think the values of this program won't fundamentally change. i think it's probably a good way to tie it back up to the heritage foundation report where we know there are issues and parts of the program that can be bolstered and can be
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strengthened and can be examined. so that will continue. assimilation, definitely how we work with communities in the u.s. how we work overseas to vet refugees on a security basis. all of those will continue to be examined. and we will look for ways that we can strengthen them. but i really do think the core values of this program will remain really between humanitarian response and foreign policy goals. >> okay. well, thanks very much, everyone. thank you all for coming. that brings us to the end of our time, unfortunately. but please join me in thanking our panelists. [ applause ]
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hilly. hillary clinton with her book "what happened." >> it really hit me that there were these very important issues that needed to be discussed, debated even, that our democracy and country relied upon that kind of self examination. i thought well i need to know what happened. i need to be as honest candid, open as i possibly can and figure it out for myself and maybe doing it in a book would provide the discipline, the deadline to try to think it through.
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>> the university of massachusetts and his book. >> these people and the rest of them, they're actually quite good at projecting that kind of personality which interlekt you'lls found attractive. as i said, this philosopher and this revolutionary idealism, or the assumption or the belief that these dictators used political power wisely and ben environment lanltly and that they were kind. and actually this is the most important for intellectuals. they bridge the gap between theory and practice. >> for more on this weekend's schedule go, to sunday night on after words, "new york times" magazine contributor suzy hansen on her
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travels abroad in her book, notes on a foreign country, an american abroad and a post american world. she's interviewed by a foreign policy interrupted he could co-founder. >> there is that question is are we exceptional? why had i never thought this was a form of propaganda? why had i not sought to question where was this concept coming from? and what was the job that was doing for individual americans? and i think that, you know, one thing i was realizing is that this took a long time to realize in, fact. the very language that we used whether we talked about foreign countries had been kind of determined for us a very long time ago. because we tended to look at muslim countries and especially countries in the east as were they catching up with us or were they behind us? and what that does is that prevents from you being able to see the country on its own terms. words sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on


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