Mark Krikorian, Executive Director of the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), hit a new low this week when he warned National Review readers that 1,350 of Saddam Hussein’s best friends will be entering the U.S. Though not readily apparent, Krikorian is talking about the State Department’s decision to let a group of Iraqi Palestinians into the country as refugees. The U.S. hasn’t accepted many Palestinian refugees from Gaza or the West Bank in an effort to avoid stepping on Israel’s toes, but Iraqi Palestinians fall in a different category for many reasons. Krikorian writes:
“Besides the specific problem of welcoming to our shores people who danced in the streets at the destruction of the Twin Towers, there’s the more general issue of resettling as refugees people who have somewhere else to go…Resettlement in America, regardless of the total numbers (and I obviously prefer lower numbers), should be reserved only for those who can’t stay where they are and will never have anywhere else to go.”
It’s unclear whether Krikorian’s limited knowledge of the subject is driven more by his xenophobic agenda or intellectual laziness. Iraqi Palestinians are definitely not in a position to stay where they are and they have limited options in terms of where they could possibly go. Iraq’s Palestinian community is largely made up of those who were already driven from their homes in 1948 and others that were expelled from Kuwait in 1991. According to Refugees International, following the U.S. invasion, Iraqi Palestinians have fled killings, kidnappings, torture, and death threats as nearly 3,000 of them were left stranded in three of the “most desolate refugee camps in the world” along the border between Syria and Iraq. Most of the Arab world has shut its doors, as Europe and Canada have already accepted the responsibility of several hundred refugees. For many in the State Department and international community, accepting these individuals is “part of a moral imperative” the U.S. has to “clean up the refugee crisis created by invading Iraq.”
Krikorian’s suggestion that Iraqi Palestinians are terrorists is based on the same shamefully misleading logic that the Bush administration used to justify the war in Iraq. While it is true that Saddam treated them well, they are a far cry from being Saddam loyalists. Iraqi Palestinians are “apolitical,” and “basically desperate, scared, miserable and ready to just get out of Iraq,” says Human Rights Watch refugee policy director Bill Frelick.
Krikorian doesn’t just think that the U.S. refugee program is a load of crap, he’s also suggesting we dump our “problems” into the backyards of other countries. Krikorian insists that there must be some other country for the Iraqi Palestinians to settle in, preferably somewhere within the Arab League of Nations. Krikorian told the Christian Science Monitor:
“This is politically a real hot potato…[A]merica has become a dumping ground for the State Department’s problems — they’re tossing their problems over their head into Harrisburg, Pa., or Omaha, Neb.”
Krikorian’s perception of Iraqi Palestinian refugees isn’t just cold-hearted and stringent, it’s ignorant. In fact, it’s surprising he’s even recognizing their right to simply exist as individuals seeing as he’s previously described their homeland as having “no past, no distinctiveness, no commonality other than being the negation of Israel, the anti-Israel — anti-matter, if you will, on the periodic table of nations.”