The Blog

What Refugee Crisis? Not Our Problem? Election Year 2016

I guess the burning question is - does the welcoming poem by immigrant Emma Lazarus embody the essence of the American promise today and resonate from beneath the feet of Lady Liberty enough to make America care?

For all those who like quoting the 1883 Emma Lazarus welcoming sonnet to the waves of immigrants seeking comfort and freedom on the American shores, here is the entire poem which is engraved on a bronze tablet within the pedestal on which The Statue of Liberty stands today in New York Harbor.

"The New Colossus"

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty women with a touch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities fame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breath free,

The wretched refuse of your teaming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. constitution on July 9, 1868, the citizenship of persons born in the United States has been controlled by its Citizenship Clause, which states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Dramatically and tragically across from where "Our Lady in the Harbor" stands just fourteen years ago this week stood two towering symbols of American commerce and industry - The World Trade Center...reduced to ruin and just a memory - in a terrorist act that has changed our world irrevocably from that moment on.

As Labor Day fades into the scorching sunset of the hottest Summer on record, Congress finally returns to take on the challenges of whether or not to support Obama's Iran Nuke Deal, the Benghazi Committee hearings and a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down.

Congress also prepares for a visit from His Holiness Pope Francis who will be addressing a joint Session of Congress on September 24.

And - Finally Campaign 2016 is now officially underway!

You may wonder what the heck was going on for the last several months as scores of candidates debated and insulted each other while raising oodles of cash just to prove they have the right stuff to lead the "Free World."

The GOP candidates will go at it again on September 16.

While cringing under the joyfully ominous shadow of impending candidate Joe Biden, Hillary and Bernie square off on October 13 as former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley vies for just a modicum of attention.

As a nation we commemorate 14 years since 9-11 while the EU migration crisis worsens and U.S. lawmakers and presidential candidates run for cover to avoid offering any real support except maybe for some perfunctory lip service, some occasional Obama bashing and a nod in the direction of moral grandstanding.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was quoted as saying that "I think we need to have a broad-based global response. The United States certainly should be at the table, but so should everybody else."

Clinton made no suggestion that the U.S. should open its borders to the fleeing refugees or any promise or pledge to accept asylum-seekers if she were elected president. She also suggested that the oil-rich Persian Gulf States do more financially.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley told CNN that he "supports the call from humanitarian and refugee organizations for the United States to accept at least 65,000 Syrian refugees next year.

Ohio governor John Kasich, a Republican candidate for president, acknowledged that the U.S. bore some of the responsibility for accepting refugees. But the responsibility, he added, "fundamentally falls on Europe".

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, whose own parents immigrated to America from Cuba in 1956 has been quoted as saying "I would be open to that if it can be done in a way that allows us to ensure that among them are not infiltrated - people who were, you know, part of a terrorist organization that are using this crisis."

Several Republicans, including Rubio, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal as well as Speaker of The House John Boehner and former Presidential Candidate Senator John Mc Cain have placed the blame for the Syrian Refugee Crisis solely on Barack Obama and the president's reluctance to take real definitive action against Bashar al-Assad's regime when it was the time to do so.

Other Republicans have also been saying that it's really a European problem, let them deal with it.

With the next GOP debate coming up in a week and the Democrats debating next month, we have only to wait to see where these presidential wannabes stand on the issue of accepting refugees from the so-called "Arab World."

Donald Trump the GOP "Master and Commander" - who has called for the expulsion of over 11 million "illegal immigrants" mostly from "South of the Border" including those U.S. citizens born on U.S. soil who happen to be children of "undocumented" parents - has been saying that the U.S. should "possibly" accept more refugees...Go figure!

In a call between President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel on August 26 President Obama..."expressed his appreciation of the Chancellor's leadership in working to address the migration crisis in Europe, in particular her recent decision to ease the burden on border countries by providing haven to Syrian refugees."

Since then the Obama Administration has been defining their involvement in terms of strong financial support and the consideration of opening its borders through terms and arrangements set by the Department of State which is establishing a working group whose goal is to ramp up efforts to alleviate some of the refugee flow to Europe.

The European countries are feverishly debating how best to share responsibility for the more than 300,000 + people already seeking refuge on the continent.

The pledges change each day as British Prime Minister David Cameron recently said the United Kingdom would resettle up to 20,000 Syrians from camps in Turkey, Jordan and Syria over the next five years, while French President Francois Hollande said his country would take in 24,000 refugees over the next two years.

Perhaps the echoes of "Never Again" have played to Angela Merkel's government's sensitivity.

Bearing most of the burden, financial and otherwise Germany approved $6.6 billion to increase aid for asylum-seekers - now estimated to reach 800,000 this year - and the hiring of more federal police as it also crafts plans to make it easier to build refugee housing and for non-German speakers to hold jobs.

As reported in The Washington Post - on Wednesday "European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled a proposal to spread 160,000 asylum seekers across Europe. But the sweeping plan went far beyond the immediate crisis, with a call to open the continent's doors to other forms of migration, making aging E.U. nations more like the immigrant-rich United States.

In Germany, where authorities have mobilized the nation to take in the rush of new asylum seekers, Merkel called for other European nations to agree to Juncker's plan."

"If Europe fails on the question of refugees, it will waste a fundamental impulse of a united Europe," Merkel told lawmakers in a speech in Berlin. Europe needs a "binding agreement," she said."

Indeed, there is much at risk for Chancellor Merkel - which is the very foundation of the European Union itself.

After a blistering confrontation with EU Member Greece earlier this year, the concept of a borderless and open "United States of Europe" being shredded by this massive migration crisis putting one Member against another, the European Union could be facing its ultimate challenge for survival.

And whenever the going get's rough in one world trouble spot we can alway count on "Rootin' Tootin' Putin" to make things worse.

This time it's Russian President Vladimir Putin's very own "Middle-East Caliphate" as the "Little Tzar" ramps up the pressure on the West to react to his variation on the Crimea-Ukraine annexation theme, as he sends forces to Syria under the guise of supporting the Assad regime's fight against ISIL.

Although the White House says it welcomes Russia's constructive contribution to the counter-ISIL campaign, the administration continues to be concerned by these military movements and finds Russia's support of the Assad regime both "destabilizing and counterproductive."

You may ask, where have the oil-rich Arab countries been over the last several years, as the Syrian civil war rages and millions of refugees flee to neighboring countries?

As reported in the International Business Times - "according to Amnesty International, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have offered zero resettlement places to Syrian refugees. They defend themselves by saying they have given hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. - Nor have Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea."

The only Arab countries to have accepted Syrian refugees are Jordan and Lebanon, both with very weak economies with very limited resourses.

So, should America really care? Should we once again burry our collective heads in the sands of isolation? Do our leaders care? Do the candidates running for election to be president care? Do they even know what's going on in Europe right now?

I guess the burning question is - does the welcoming poem by immigrant Emma Lazarus embody the essence of the American promise today and resonate from beneath the feet of Lady Liberty enough to make America care?