One of the great shames of Western democracies before World War II was their turning away victims of religious persecution. The most egregious example was that of the SS St Louis that held 937 German Jews fleeing persecution but who were turned away.
For the past 50 years, having learned the lessons of World War II, the United States has given priority to refugees from religious persecution. Indeed, federal law, via the Lautenberg Amendment and the Specter Amendment to State’s foreign operations appropriation, gave, and gives, priority refugee status to members of specific religions fleeing religious persecution.
But under the 1990 law known as the Lautenberg Amendment, the federal government initially granted a presumption of refugee eligibility for Jews and Christians fleeing the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia. Nowadays, the amendment, extended last year by Obama, prioritizes the resettlement of Jews, Christians, Baha’is, and other religious minorities who flee Iran.
Yesterday, Donald Trump did the same thing for Christians, Shia Muslims, Yazidis, Jews, and Mandeans fleeing Islamic terror in Iraq and Syria:
e) Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
One would have thought that there would be a general agreement that doing this was a good thing. But the president is Donald Trump and, by definition, Donald Trump can do no good. So now there are people who were bitching about Obama restricting the flow of Christian Syrians to nearly zero complaining that Donald Trump is violating the Establishment Clause and all manner of other evil stuff because he is allowing persecuted religious minorities from Syrian religious communities that have been targeted for destruction preference for refugee status.
Go figure. A guy finally does something that most conservatives have been demanding for a year or more and he gets attacked by self-styled conservatives. It would nearly make you think that there was no real conviction behind the issue with Obama’s actions either.