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Don't let false claims of religious persecution threaten the U.S.

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Religious Activists Bear False Witness on Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill

Don’t let false claims of religious persecution threaten the U.S.

A cabal of religious lobbies is attacking badly needed asylum reforms contained in House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner’s 9/11 bill. But the fact is that faith-motivated Americans — Christians in particular — should strongly support this legislation. Some of the usual suspects, who regularly align themselves with radical organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union in favor of open-borders policies, are again preaching a false doctrine. Thus, their opinion should be viewed as suspect. These activists in religious trappings claim that people who face persecution for their religious faith could possibly be sent back to their persecutors, if asylum were made the least bit harder to obtain. Well, asylum seekers whose “religion† calls them to terrorist violence certainly aren’t wanted here, especially if that false religion requires trying to destroy America and murder millions of Americans. In fact, there is scarcely a chance of returning bonafide victims of religious persecution, even with the proposed improvements. These religious groups seem to read Scripture highly selectively, when they refer to it at all — hardly an acceptable approach for orthodox evangelicals. They cite passages such as Leviticus 19:33-34 and Exodus 22:21, which told ancient Israelites not to mistreat aliens living among them. However, such verses say nothing about what the policies for admitting foreigners should look like. Nor do they speak to permissible, prudential safeguards in the face of fraud and terrorist schemes. And these advocates utterly ignore other verses close by that mandate capital punishment, for instance. The REAL ID Act would correct some truly outrageous loopholes in America’s asylum system. H.R. 418, with 125 cosponsors, will affirm the longstanding, common-sense legal standard that the alien seeking asylum bears the burden of proving eligibility for asylum. Further, the bill will allow asylum adjudicators to consider the person’s credibility — a routine practice used every single day in criminal cases, where the defendant’s fate may include the death penalty — and corroborating evidence. Most importantly, the legislation makes it harder for terrorists to qualify for asylum. It would redress the Orwellian judicial activism of — you guessed it — the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit has ruled that punishing someone because of membership in a guerilla or terrorist organization counts as “persecution† because of his political opinion. Moreover, current law actually allows members of terrorist groups to qualify for asylum (though not known terrorists themselves, who likely aren’t even named on watch lists). That poison concoction has led to what the Board of Immigration Appeals has called “the entirely novel view that the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government is a ‘political opinion’ like any other and that no government may object to its expression.† In other words, activist judicial leftists think that terrorists whose home government may justifiably prosecute them because of their terrorism deserve asylum in the United States. Common-sensical readers are asking themselves about now, why would the religious left or right favor a system that currently makes it easy for terrorist aliens to gain asylum in this country? Scripture tells Christians that they should be as wise as serpents yet as innocent as doves. The God-given purpose of civil government is to protect the innocent and punish evildoers, as the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 13. That government’s first priority is law-abiding citizens under its jurisdiction — the neighbors within its borders. Our asylum system is chock full of holes. The 9/11 Commission documented the vast extent to which foreign terrorists have exploited America’s immigration system, including asylum. The commission staff reported, “A number of terrorists discussed in [this report] abused the asylum system.† The Justice Department Inspector General has found that 97 percent of asylum claimants released by authorities disappear into the country. Officials say that 90 percent of aliens claiming asylum when they reach a U.S. port of entry aren’t detained, despite the law’s requirements. These releases often occur based on flimsy stories of persecution. Entire criminal enterprises have built up to exploit these asylum loopholes and to coach fakers. In November, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty broke up an Indonesian fraud ring in Northern Virginia. In addition to fake documents, a huge part of the five-year operation involved asylum scams. This group routinely prepared fraudulent asylum applications alleging persecution on the basis of the person’s Christian faith. The indictment said many of those applications contained essentially the same story. No one wants to send anyone who actually faces wrongful persecution back to it by accident. But by the same token, we cannot ignore the abundant evidence that false claims of religious persecution are a growth industry. And the fact that terrorist groups have actively exploited this loophole for years raises the stakes exponentially. The threat is real, and civil authorities have a responsibility — a biblical responsibility — to safeguard the American people by plugging loopholes like those in our asylum system. Congress must use a little serpently wisdom to shut down the huge threat our leaky asylum laws pose, which allow the lowest snakes on earth — those who would fake a claim of religious persecution — to use our laws against us for undeserved gain.

James Edwards is coauthor of "The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform."

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