America already has extreme vetting

I made a video:

I sort of couldn’t help myself. When I lived in Denmark I volunteered at an asylum center. I mentored a 17-year-old Afghan refugee. Since then, I’ve had friends and colleagues get jobs in international refugee policy. Seen them, one by one, become frustrated at the stinginess, the injustice, the cruelty masquerading as bureaucracy. It’s impossible for me to talk or write about this in my own voice without getting worked up, so I tried using someone else’s.

I grew up in a super religious family. Church on Sundays, hands clasped before dinner, Bible camp every summer. I remember talking to one of my parents’ friends when I was maybe 13 or 14. She worked at a homeless shelter, she provided food and clothes and beds all winter, a big brick building in the middle of a neighborhood I had lived my whole life avoiding.

I was in my Ayn Rand phase at the time, and I asked her, wasn’t she worried about dependency, fraud, the homeless people going to her shelter, getting food, then going to another and getting more?

“They need our help,” she said. And that was it. End of sentence, end of conversation. I remember being struck by that, the simplicity of it, the clarity of genuine, actual, real-world grace being defined in four words right in front of me.

This is why I get so upset about refugee policy. It is one of the few areas where our institutions are explicitly guided by morality. Developed countries started taking in refugees from the ashes of World War II. The economic and political benefits of doing so—and there are many—were unknown at the time, irrelevant. We took them because they needed us to. It really was that simple.

Since then, of course, it has become complicated. There’s nothing surprising about this. Institutions need vetting processes, evaluation criteria, annual audits, fine, whatever. I get that. Just because a policy was founded in generosity does not mean that it has no limits.

But the debate about those limits and the steady strengthening of them makes me—I don’t know how else to put it—very sad. As a person, I know that genuine grace is an aspiration I will never reach. As a citizen, I find it difficult to accept that my institutions have stopped trying.

23 Comments

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23 responses to “America already has extreme vetting

  1. Reblogged this on Mooms's Blog and commented:
    #BackInTheU_S_of_A #ExtremeVetting

  2. Pingback: On the refugee crisis | I have something to say

  3. notwithoutavoice

    Reblogged this on Not Without A Voice and commented:
    Reblogged this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Life really should be a quest to act graciously and gracefully, even if we know it will be a struggle at times. Thank you for pointing this out in a poignant way. They need our help. And perhaps one day I will need their help, or someone special to me will need your help.

  5. muckrakingsite

    If only we elected people that have the compassion of the woman you mentioned, our world would be very different.

    • Everyone can help anyone, if you want to help – you need to reach them, it is a choice we make for a living. Although we have voice, to say something out of anybody. Help is coming from the heart not from political view. It’s awful to see and hear that most people of the world just look at the leaders of any country – they should think that they can make a difference to the lives of unfortunate!

  6. Reblogged this on The Global Soul and commented:
    It is more than sad. The policy is inhumane. Against basic human rights,

  7. those imposing the extreme vetting have never been in a situation of desperation. they haven’t faced displacement and as such, they don’t know what it is to worry if you will survive today because worrying about tomorrow is a luxury.

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  9. I definitely agree. Compassion shouldn’t be argued with.

  10. Well written and AMAZING video. I really enjoyed it and love how passionately you feel towards refugees. You, my friend, have just earned a follower.
    Maybe you’ll like my blog too? Mind checking it out please (simply click my profile to go there)?

  11. Pingback: The Week’s End // A Roundup of Important Reads – ZEN AND PI

  12. Everyone needs a reason, for some it is about economic benefits and for a few it is about ‘They need our help’

  13. We must help people and help humanity. America is a nation of immigrants is it not? In history i am an irish immigrant into Britain. We have all at some point migrated. May humanity help its sons and daughters. http://wp.me/p5IK2v-1o

  14. Reblogged this on Kazsta_1_0 Talks and commented:
    Amen!

  15. dreamsofhope9

    The motto one more life to be saved in anyway that’s the human spirit, your heart is fully filled with compassion, so that makes you more human than others

  16. When we changed from belief in people to fear of people we gave up our humanity. We need very loud voices to get it back. A bit of political involvement will also help.

  17. Great perspective. I don’t hear enough people talking about the morality of America’s policies, least of all from the people who often claim to have the moral high ground. What I find so frustrating about the “extreme vetting” policy (if you can call it that) is not only that it discards our moral obligations, but that for very practical reasons, it is simply absurd. No one has talked about how vetting will be improved, and it appears that no one in the administration understands the current vetting process. I have researched this topic a lot in the past year or so, and am convinced there is very little we could do to the vetting process to improve national security.

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  19. Extreme vetting creates more stress on the side of the refugees and a waste of time and money on the side of the government.

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