Patterico's Pontifications


Frau Merkel Sounds the Retreat from the Immigration Battlefield

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:54 pm

[guest post by JVW]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who took nearly six months to stitch together a very shaky government after her party suffered major losses in last September’s election, has agreed to the demands of her coalition partner the Christian Social Union (CSU) to tighten the rules governing asylum seekers, including housing many of them in camps set up at Germany’s border while they await processing instead of permitting them to travel throughout Germany. This represents a significant backtracking from the policy that Chancellor Merkel pushed on Germany — and, by extension, on continental Europe — three years ago. Under the proposed policy, those who first enter Europe via Greece or Italy or Albania or Croatia or wherever can no longer trek straight to the border and enter refugee-accommodating Germany or Sweden, they must instead wait in the camp at the border while their status is determined. Germany’s Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, has promised his CSU allies that the new policy will allow closer vetting and make it easier for migrants whose refugee application is rejected to be sent back to their home countries or somewhere else in Europe (think of another German-speaking nation on Germany’s southern border).

This new proposal still needs the blessing of the more left-wing Social Democratic Party (SPD), the third player in the coalition government, who is arguing for a liberal policy at the German border coupled with greater aid to Italy and Greece to allow more refugees to remain there, as well as calling for greater border control overall at the shores of Europe. In other words, the SPD hopes to punt the matter off to the coastal states while paying lip service to combatting “the root of the problem” causing people to emigrate to Europe. While the SPD claims that talks are “making progress,” they have temporarily been suspended until Thursday so that the German leaders can celebrate America’s Independence Day. All of this, largely to prevent the immigration restrictionists from the Alliance for Germany Party (AfD) from making further gains at the expense of the traditional German center-right.

Chancellor Merkel has largely virtue-signaled and blundered through this whole immigration imbroglio, but don’t discount her ability to survive with a politically clever solution. Though apparently Austria has not yet been officially contacted regarding the new policy and though Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is far less interested in accepting refugees than his German counterpart, the fact that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Obran has not ruled out striking a deal with Germany and Austria suggests that Berlin can mitigate the immigrant crisis by paying off Vienna and Budapest. We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s vast tolerance for immigrants will be put to the test in elections this September, as parties who oppose Sweden’s current policies are looking to make gains in a country that sees itself as “a humanitarian superpower” yet prides itself on social cohesion.


U.S. President Donald Trump: It Is Bad to Have U.S. Citizens from Iran

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:59 am

The President of the United States tweeted this early this morning:

The first thing to realize here is that it’s unclear whether it’s actually true. President Trump has a habit of proclaiming the truth of things he sees on the teevee, even when he has access to actual governmental information that could confirm or deny the teevee allegations. (Remember his false tweets about how Obama wiretapped him, for example.) A Fox News report emerged in the last 24 hours making the accusation about the 2500 Iranian immigrants — and the story seems to be based on the as-yet unsubstantiated allegations of “a senior cleric and member of parliament” in Iran named Hojjat al-Islam Mojtaba Zolnour. I suspect this report ended up on the Fox News network, and our Cable News Watcher in Chief pounced.

Is Zolnour telling the truth? I have no idea. The Washington Times reports:

“This sounds like totally made-up B.S.,” said Marie Harf, a former State Department spokeswoman who now works for Fox News.

The current State Department said in a statement to Fox News: “We’re not going to comment on every statement by an Iranian official.”

Moreover, the numbers don’t appear to reflect any particular bump in either green cards or citizenship for Iranians during this period. According to the Fox News story:

Though Zolnour did not mention anyone by name during the interview, several children of current and former Iranian officials live in the United States, including Ali Fereydoun, whose father Hossein Fereydoun is the brother of and special aide to Rouhani; and Fatemeh Ardeshir Larijani, whose father Ali Larijani is speaker of parliament.

There is no suggestion either of these people received citizenship in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal. It’s also unclear if Zolnour meant citizenship or a green card.

In 2015, 13,114 people born in Iran were issued green cards, while 13,298 were issued one in 2016, according to figures from the Department for Homeland Security. In 2015, 10,344 Iranians became naturalized, with a further 9,507 in 2016.

But putting aside the question of the tweet’s truth, there seems to be no plausible way to read Trump’s tweet other than as a bigoted rejection of Iranian citizens. When I raised this issue on Twitter, Trump defenders told me that certainly the Iranians admitted would have been the bad ones that the Ayatollah didn’t want. (There is no evidence of that, of course, but a certain species of Trump supporter doesn’t require evidence to defend Trump.) But even if we accepted the notion that the 2500 (if they exist) were chosen for being antithetical to the views of the Ayatollah, that could easily mean that they were among the least fundamentalist and Islamist of possible emigres. And indeed, according to the Fox News report, Zolnour, the cleric making the accusation, said the new immigrants were undermining Iran’s interests:

He estimated that between 30 and 60 were studying in the U.S. while the rest of them were working in the country “against our national interests.”

He’s talking about Iran’s interests, not ours. Wouldn’t those be the most desirable of Iranian immigrants, and not the least?

No, it seems that the real problem here for Trump is that we admitted people from Iran. And apparently Trump thinks that Iran is bad and therefore U.S. citizens who come from Iran are bad.

And this is both ignorant and bigoted. The Iranian immigrants I know are among the most patriotic people I’ve ever met. Keep in mind that after 9/11, the citizens of Tehran supported the United States:

In Iran, vast crowds turned out on the streets and held candlelit vigils for the victims. Sixty-thousand spectators respected a minute’s silence at Tehran’s football stadium.

When the President of the United States puts out a statement that suggests that it’s a bad thing to have U.S. citizens who hail from Iran, he sends a message to U.S. citizens here who come from Iran: you are not welcome. It is a bad thing that you are here.

In short, this tweet makes President Donald J. Trump look like a real asshole.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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