Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Syrian Refugees, National Security, and Catholic Legal Theory

A few correspondents have asked me (paraphrasing) "why haven't you blogged about the boiling debate over whether or not the United States should exclude Syrian refugees in the wake of the attacks on Paris and why haven't you written in response to the controversial things being said, done, and proposed by some politicians and candidates?"  Some of these correspondents seemed curious; some others seemed to be leveling an accusation of some kind.

I do not know as much as I should about the law and policy relating to immigration and asylum.  I'd welcome my fellow MOJ-ers who do to weigh in.  My own view is that the "debate" that's been happening in my Twitter feed, on Facebook, on op-ed pages, and in the public square has been, for the most part, frustrating, unedifying, and simplistic.  

It seems pretty clear to me that (a) ISIS (etc.) pose a serious national-security threat, one that our government and other governments should take very seriously and respond to with both prudence and resolve; (b) the United States should -- the attacks in Paris notwithstanding -- welcome refugees (of all faiths and none) from conflicts in Syria and elsewhere, after appropriately careful screening and investigation, in appropriately managed numbers, and state governors and other politicians should not grandstand or engage in demagoguery about excluding (or worse!) refugees; (c) that it is not xenophobic or racist, but rather entirely reasonable, to take seriously and to respond intelligently to the possibility that some people will exploit the refugee crisis and attempt to use refugee status for bad purposes; and (d) that it is not an "un-American" "religious test" to place special (again, not exclusive) emphasis on providing a safe refuge for religious minorities who are the victims and targets of persecution because of their religion.  (One more:  It also seems clear to me that arguments that take the form of "If you/we do [something about which I wish to express disapproval] then you/we will be doing exactly what ISIS wants you/we to do" are overused.)

I'd welcome, as always, others' perspectives.  I'm reminded of the careful and balanced approaches to the immigration issue that folks like Mary Ann Glendon and Michael Scaperlanda have proposed over the years.


Garnett, Rick | Permalink