(Current books & past quality books)
There are at least about a half-dozen contemporary books on refugees that Albuquerque readers and Governor Martinez could try to absorb before taking a position on admitting Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees to the United States and New Mexico in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
“The Making of the Modern Refugee” (Oxford U Press) by Peter Gatrell, published this past September, could be a good place to start. Both those in favor of and opposed to U.S. plans to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees during the 2016 fiscal year should at least make a token effort to understand the larger problem.
States do not have the ability to stop the federal government from accepting and financing the resettlement of refugees to the United States, although Congress could block spending through the budget process. Most opposition to the plan has sought reassurances that the process used to screen refugees is adequate. Non-profit agencies who work with the federal government to resettle refugees in the U.S. confirm that while the cooperation of states and localities helps in the process, no governor can impede the movement of refugees in the U.S. once they have legal status.
Any legislation that seeks to limit the ability of the U.S. to welcome refugees fleeing Syria will be opposed by the White House, according to President Barack Obama. “People should remember that no refugee can enter our borders until they undergo the highest security checks of anyone traveling to the United States,” Obama has said. “That was the case before Paris, and it’s the case now.”
To respond to the refugee issue, the House Republican Leadership drafted a bill which the House passed overwhelmingly (289 to 137) to drastically tighten screening procedures on refugees from Syria. The Democratic leadership in the Senate vowed to block the legislation.
More than half of the nation’s governors, including Gov. Susana Martinez, have moved to at least formally announce their opposition to refugees being resettled in their states.
Examiner suggests they read “The Making of the Modern Refugee” and perhaps “Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government” (Polite) by Michael Agier and David Fernbach.
Simply put, absorbing a little history and common sense in these books would help bring into focus this argument: “Confusing refugees with terrorists is morally unacceptable and, as a matter of strategy, misguided. Stemming the exodus of refugees from Syria must be an important part of any comprehensive plan to end the Syrian war. Building new barriers to keep them out with the absurd argument that Muslims are inherently dangerous could provide propaganda benefits to the Islamic State.”
To misunderstand the problem would be tantamount to hara-kiri, a self-destructive political act named for ritual suicide by disembowelment with a sword, formerly practiced in Japan by samurai as an honorable alternative to disgrace or execution. Examiner sees nothing “honorable” in turning one’s collective backs on published facts so readily available and free of politics. The term “gutless” comes to mind.
“The Making of the Modern Refugee” is a comprehensive history of global population displacement in the twentieth century, according to the publisher. It takes a new approach to the subject, exploring its causes, consequences, and meanings. History, the author shows, provides important clues to understanding how the idea of refugees as a “problem” embedded itself in the minds of policy-makers and the public, and poses a series of fundamental questions about the nature of enforced migration and how it has shaped society throughout the twentieth century across a broad geographical area — from Europe and the Middle East to South Asia, South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Wars, revolutions, and state formation are invoked as the main causal explanations of displacement, and are considered alongside the emergence of a twentieth-century refugee regime linking governmental practices, professional expertise, and humanitarian relief efforts.
This new study rests upon scholarship from several disciplines and draws extensively upon oral testimony, eye-witness accounts, and film, as well as unpublished source material in the archives of governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations. “The Making of the Modern Refugee” explores the significance that refugees attached to the places they left behind, to their journeys, and to their destinations — in short, how refugees helped to interpret and fashion their own history.
Peter Gatrell was educated at the University of Cambridge. In 1976 he joined the University of Manchester where he is currently Professor of Economic History and affiliated to new Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute. He teaches courses on refugees in modern world history, Russian economic and social history, the cultural history of war, and the history of humanitarianism. He is the author of several books including “The Tsarist Economy, 1850-1917” (1986), “A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War 1” (1999), and “Free World? The campaign to save the world’s refugees, 1956-1963” (2011).
Examiner notes that the international community’s obligation to protect civilians fleeing war and persecution is enshrined in human rights law and principles that the United States and European nations have championed over the past century. The Syrian war has sorely tested those commitments, but world leaders, including most especially U.S. Congressmen, should not allow the conflict to render them gutless. President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission has said that the Paris attacks should not be used as a reason to revise the European Union’s entire refugee policy. Whether members of the U.S. Congress agree may depend on what they are able to absorb from reading “The Making of the Modern Refugee” and other accurate information. Meanwhile, to its humanitarian credit, the French government is welcoming 30,000 more refugees.