National Review's Andrew C. McCarthy wants you to know that President Obama is a an evil lying traitor because -- says McCarthy -- federal law insists on a religious test for refugees seeking asylum, contrary to what the president says:
In his latest harangue against Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and other Americans opposed to his insistence oncontinuing to import thousands of Muslim refugees from Syria and other parts of the jihad-ravaged Middle East, Obama declaimed:
When I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted … that’s shameful…. That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.
Really? Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission
must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.
Um, no. That's not what the law says -- or at least that's not what the law in its full, ellipsis-free form says. Here's that passage unedited (but with emphasis added):
To establish that the applicant is a refugee within the meaning of such section, the applicant must establish that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.
Unlike McCarthy, I'm not a lawyer, much less a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. I've never been involved in federal prosecutions of prominent terrorists. But I know the meaning of the word "or." It's not the same as "and." Religion is one of the possible reasons for persecution that can justify an application for refugee status. An applicant must be subject to one of the listed forms of persecution or another.
McCarthy continues in this vein:
Moreover, to qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a “refugee” as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , U.S. Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion:
The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to … that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of …religion [among other things] …[.]
The law requires a “religious test.”
Again, no. It is not true that the law "requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion." Sorry, Andrew, but there's that pesky word "or" again (I've added extra-special emphasis just so you don't miss it):
The term “refugee” means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or...
Is McCarthy stupid? Or does he just assume his readers are?
I assume he knows he's bending the truth. But he's doing it in the service of a higher calling -- or, rather, two higher callings: fanning the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry and inspiring the rabble to hate Democrats. It's disgraceful -- but who'll call him on this disinformation? So what he's saying is likely to be ensconced as a right-wing meme very soon. Expect an email forward from your right-wing uncle any day now, and expect to hear this a lot on Fox.
Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog