tv Lectures in History U.S. Refugee Policy Since World War II CSPAN September 20, 2020 12:04am-1:04am EDT
we hope folks will tune in on that. so much foryou being our guest. are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. up next on lectures in history, cornell university professor maria cristina garcia talks about the united states refugee policy since world war ii. she discusses who qualifies as a refugee and how that has changed over the years, as well as legislation governing quotas and procedures. >> hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing to europe at this very moment. can anyone tell me from what countries they are fleeing? leighton. ok, syria. any other countries? tess? >> kosovo. prof. garcia: sarah?
russia. any other countries? stephen? eritrea, that's correct. patrizio. >> [inaudible] prof. garcia: that's correct. thank you. so they are traveling very long distances to find refuge in europe, and this map gives you an idea of the routes and distances they are traveling in order to reach safety. some are traveling alone, others are traveling as part of family units. some are traveling in search of economic opportunity. others are literally fleeing for their lives to escape war, devastation, rape, and forced conscription into armies. the vast majority of the refugees are syrian. can anyone tell me why the syrians are fleeing? ok, thank you. albert. >> civil war.
prof. garcia: civil war, absolutely. would anyone else like to venture -- talk? meredith. >> the civil war is very violent. people are getting killed publicly and ritualistically. [inaudible] health care, the economy. [inaudible] prof. garcia: absolutely correct, all of you. thank you. the country has been locked in a bloody civil war for the past four years that has internally displaced one third of its population. that is 7 million out of 21 million people. some 4 million people have been forced to cross international borders, mostly to neighboring countries like jordan and lebanon. they are fleeing enormous devastation. last month, the obama administration announced it would increase the annual refugee quota over the next two years to assist with this
humanitarian crisis. the annual quota, which has been set at 70,000 to 80,000 for over a decade now will increase to 100,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017, presumably to accommodate a greater share of syrian refugees. within our immigration bureaucracy, there are several tracks for admission. over the course of the semester, we have discussed some of those tracks of admission. today we are going to discuss two of those additional tracks, the refugee and asylum tracks. as you know from your class reading, americans have used the word refugee throughout the 19th and 20th centuries to describe a wide range of migration experiences. during the mid-19th century, for example, americans referred to the germans fleeing the 1848 revolution in europe as refugees. in 1865, as part of the
post-civil war reconstruction, the federal government established an agency known as the bureau of refugees, freedmen, and abandoned lands, more popularly known as the freedmen's bureau, to assist the newly freed slaves. during the mexican revolution of 1910 to 1920, an estimated one million people fled mexico and settled in the southwestern united states. american journalists and politicians commonly referred to these people as refugees. but there are many other historical examples that we could point to. we have used the term refugee over and over again throughout american history. however, today refugee has a very precise legal meaning, and that meeting has developed over the past 60 years, as we will see in today's class. we don't see a distinct refugee policy until the end of world war ii.
two congressional acts are generally considered the origins of american refugee policy. the 1948 displaced persons act and the 1953 refugee relief act. under these two programs, the federal government allowed 600,000 europeans to immigrate to the united states over and beyond the established immigration quotas, because it was deemed in the national interest. can anyone tell me why the truman and eisenhower administration would have deemed it in the national interest to accommodate european refugees and displaced persons? anyone want to venture a guess? sarah. >> trying to be the better nation against the soviet union. prof. garcia: right. we are already locked in a cold war with the soviet union. we are battling for the hearts and minds of the developing worlds.
this is a way of signaling to the rest of the world our humanitarian commitment. any other reasons? >> they wanted european stability. that was in the interest of the u.s. economically. prof. garcia: absolutely. they wanted european stability, to assist in europe's postwar economic recovery. any other reasons you can think of? these are all very good answers. at the end of the war, there were an estimated 10 million people left homeless and, in some cases, stateless, just in europe alone. truman wanted to accommodate a greater share of the displaced persons in order to assist europe's postwar recovery. as tess pointed out. financial aid to the war-torn nations was not enough, he said. the united states had a moral obligation to accept a number of the displaced persons in europe. and yet congress resisted. even after americans became more fully aware of the horrors of the nazi death camps, congress
resisted. can anyone venture a guess or tell me why congress would have been so resistant at this time to accommodating displaced persons, refugees? anyone want to venture a guess? bear in mind that at this moment in time, the national origin quotas are still in place. admitting people outside of those national origin quotas was a highly controversial idea, resisted on capitol hill. when the displaced persons act finally passed, it passed three years after the war had ended. even though president truman had advocated on behalf of the displaced persons, he was tempted to veto this particular bill that came out of congress because he felt it was wholly inconsistent with american's sense of justice.
but in the end, he signed the legislation because he wanted to be able to assist some segment of the displaced population, even though it was not the bill he was looking for. so why did he consider this to be wholly inconsistent with the american sense of justice? the bill that came out of congress had so many restrictions on who could be sponsored. you had to be located in austria and germany, for example, and you had to be living there by 1945. this excluded most of the jewish refugee population. the law was amended two years later in 1950. but by august 1952, of the 415,000 europeans that were brought in as displaced persons, only 80,000 of them were jewish refugees. the majority of those who were granted visas to come to the united states were ethnic germans.
president eisenhower also believed that much more had to be done to assist the countries of western europe, countries that were still economically recovering from the war and now facing the additional burden of thousands of refugees fleeing the eastern bloc, the newly emerging communist countries of the eastern bloc, and moving into western europe. this time, congress responded with the refugee relief act of 1953. this act granted 214,000 visas over the next two years to, "refugees, expellees, and escapees." the law defined these terms in particular ways. expellees and escapees were defined as those who left communist countries, while refugees were those in danger of
persecution anywhere in the world. however, because the vast majority of those admitted to the united states under the refugee relief act were fleeing communist countries, the term refugee became synonymous with those who were fleeing communism, at least in this country. refugee policy became a tool of cold war foreign policy. it was a way of assisting those who were fleeing communism. but because people who were fleeing communism -- let's say there was a great deal of suspicion in the united states among americans about whether these individuals were truly democracy loving, freedom loving individuals. those who came from communist countries tended to be heavily screened because of american fears about sponsoring communist spies and saboteurs who would
infiltrate the united states and do harm to the united states. as the cold war developed, the united states was forced to deal with a number of humanitarian crises. these responses helped to further develop our refugee policy. in 1956, for example, socialist revolutionaries in hungary overthrew their pro-soviet communist governments. this prompted a violent crackdown on the part of the soviet union. within days of the crackdown, tens of thousands of hungarian refugees had fled into neighboring austria and yugoslavia. some 200,000 hungarian refugees eventually took refuge in austria alone. and to accommodate these hungarian refugees, the eisenhower administration used a little-known codicil in the immigration and nationality act known as the parole authority, which allowed the attorney general to parole people into
the united states without a visa and outside of immigration quotas if it was deemed in the national interest. the immigrant parolees could stay in the united states, but they could not become permanent residents or citizens unless congress passed legislation that helped them normalize their status. eisenhower used this parole authority to admit some 32,000 hungarian refugees into the united states, just from austria, and an additional 6000 refugees were brought in under a variety of other visas. but because americans were concerned with sponsoring communist spies and saboteurs, the u.s. refugees were brought to camp kilner, an old army base in new jersey, where they were screened, interviewed, housed temporarily before they were released to their assigned american sponsor families. in this photograph you see here,
we see vice president richard nixon meeting with hungarian refugee children around christmas time. the next humanitarian crisis came in cuba in 1959. fidel castro and his july 26 movement overthrew the government of bautista. between 1959 and 1973, roughly half a million cubans are admitted to the united states, the majority of them through the so-called freedom flights of the mid to late 1960's. in fact today, this very day, , december 1, marks the 50th anniversary of the first freedom flight from havana to miami international airport. the kennedy administration created the cuban refugee program to screen the refugees to find sponsors for them, and to help them retool for life in the united states. by the time the cuban refugee program was phased out in the
mid-1970's, the federal government had invested some $900 million into cuban refugee relief. now as i mentioned earlier, , those paroled into the united states could not become permanent residents or citizens unless congress passed enabling legislation, legislation that allowed them to normalize their status. and this is what congress did. congress passed the hungarian relief act of 1958 and 1966 cuban adjustment act, which allowed hungarians and cubans to become permanent residents of the united states after living just two years in the united states. so we begin to see the origins of a distinct refugee policy taking place in the 1950's and 1960's. now members of congress became , increasingly concerned that the white house was using the parole authority too much as a
backdoor to bring people into the united states outside of the established immigration quota. so consequently, when congress passed the hart cellar act of 1965, which we discussed a couple of weeks ago, they inserted a quota of 10,000 refugees per year. and once again, refugee was defined as someone who fled a communist, communist-dominated, or communist-occupied country. so we see that further association of the word refugee with someone who was fleeing communism. this association of refugee with anti-communism continued through the 1970's. those admitted under the hart cellar refugee quota, almost all of them came from refugee -- communist countries the executive branch continued to parole anti-communists outside
of refugee quotas. after the fall of saigon in 1975, 130,000 refugees were admitted from vietnam, cambodia, and laos. and congress passed the indochina migration and refugee assistance act to provide resettlement assistance to those 130,000 refugees. now, the decision to admit refugees was always contested. throughout the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's, public opinion polls showed americans were generally sympathetic to those fleeing communism, but they didn't necessarily want them to come here. they didn't want them to come to united states. they wanted them to go someplace else. back in 1956, the eisenhower administration had to enlist the assistance of public relation firms from madison avenue to help them sell the idea of hungarian refugees to a reluctant american population. and these public relation firms
worked with specific journalists who published story after story in newsmagazines, like time, newsweek, and life, portraying the hungarians as hard-working, freedom-loving people. the photograph i showed of -- of richard nixon meeting with the hungarian refugee children was part of the pr campaign to sell the idea of hungarian refugees to a reluctant american population. many americans were still not convinced. 20 years later, americans were even more resistant to accommodating southeast asians, who they viewed as too culturally different to be properly assimilated to the united states. the pain of the vietnam war also probably had a great deal to do with that reluctance to sponsor southeast asian refugees, despite the news of squalid refugee camps in thailand and despite the news that hundreds of people were dying to reach safety somewhere in the world.
less then -- public opinion polls tell us that less than one third of americans were in favor of sponsoring vietnamese or other southeast asian refugees on american soil. despite this public opposition, the white house always took the lead on refugee policy. they favored refugee admission for humanitarian reasons, but also as a tool of cold war foreign-policy. refugees served an important symbolic function during the cold war. they demonstrated the desirability of democracy over totalitarianism and demonstrated the desirability of capitalism over communism. refugees went to great lengths to escape a communist country, as you see on the photo. these photos are of people from east berlin trying to reach west berlin. as you see in these photos, some refugees went to extraordinary
lengths. they built underground tunnels, they jumped over fences and walls. in some cases, they built hot air balloons to fly them across international borders. they demonstrated, they symbolized the hunger on behalf of humans to live in free societies. or so the argument went. refugees were also the highly skilled of their societies, or in many cases they were the highly skilled of their societies. in some cases, they brought important intelligence that informed our military policies overseas. refugee scientists like albert einstein -- excuse me. ok, thank you. refugee scientists like albert einstein and fermi played a key role in the development of nuclear physics in this country. the united states also went to great lengths to bring in people
they considered the brightest to the united states. and as we discussed a couple weeks ago, the secretary of state even expunged the nazi records of some people like werner von brown and some fellow nazi scientists so they could work in u.s. intelligence. and werner von braun and his team of scientists played a key role in the development of the u.s. space program. refugees also informed our political life. think of henry kissinger, madeleine albright, the german political theorist hannah arendt. they played a key role. there are others that played a key role in shaping our political life. they have shaped our cultural life. think of the actress marlena dietrich, the austrian composer schoenberg, and the russian french painter chagall.
there are many other refugees we could highlight. refugees have always played an important role in the economic and cultural life of our nation. but public opinion polls tell us , americans were very concerned about accommodating refugees, no matter how noble the cause, no matter how noble the individual. in 1980, congress passed the refugee act in response to what they perceived to be the continuing misuse of the parole authority on the part of the executive branch in service of cold war foreign-policy. the 1980 refugee act tried to free the definition of refugee from the anti-communism connotations and instead adopted the u.n. definition of refugee. can anyone tell me the five protected categories in the u.n. and u.s. definition of refugees?
vivian? >> race, religion, nationality, political affiliation -- [inaudible] prof. garcia: correct. so a refugee must prove a , well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership of a political or social group, or political opinion. the refugee act also established a numerical quota. they were tired of the executive branch bringing in an indefinite number of refugees outside of immigration quotas, and they put a strict numerical limit on those refugees who could be brought in to the united states. how is the refugee quota determined? can anyone tell me? anyone want to venture a guess? well, since 1980, the white house in consultation with congress establishes an annual refugee quota and carves up that quota according to that year's national priorities.
so during the first year, the quota was set at 50,000. it was eventually increased to 120,000. but since 9/11, the annual refugee quota has hovered at 70,000 to 80,000 per year. but as we see on this slide, we have never, ever come close to meeting the quota. the closest we came was 2013. which unfortunately has been cut off at the bottom of the slide. that year, in 2013, we came within 100 slots of meeting the annual refugee quota of 70,000. but as you see on the slide, in the first column you see the annual ceiling and the actual number of refugees admitted during that fiscal year. we've never come close to meeting the annual refugee quota. despite attempts to bring the definition of refugee in line with international norms, in
practice, anti-communism continued to be the ideological lens through which we determine who a refugee is, who would be prioritized for admission to the united states. the vast majority of our refugees have come from three countries -- the soviet union, cuba, and vietnam. now, the end of the cold war presented numerous humanitarian challenges for the united states. millions of people were displaced from their homes and forced to cross international borders, as nations disappeared, reconstituted themselves, and politically realigned. we have seen war, civil unrest, genocide, natural disaster in far too many countries. by the end of the 1990's, the first decade after -- i guess you could say the first decade of the post-cold war period. by the end of the 1990's, there were 14 million refugees
worldwide, the majority of them women and children. in the post-cold war period, foreign-policy interest continued to influence who comes into the united states. but what we are seeing also in the post-cold war period is the growing importance of domestic advocacy groups. they are playing a much more proactive role in shaping the contours of refugee policy, who is admitted to the united states. those groups that have powerful advocates representing their interests before congress are much more successful in prying open the door to the united states. our system is highly responsive to advocacy. so let me give you a few examples. in 1990, the decision to give half of the refugee quota to soviet jews had a great deal to do with domestic pressure, with domestic advocacy.
during the administration of ronald reagan, the white house had railed at the soviet leadership to allow the jewish refuseniks to leave the soviet union. they even made future trade with united states contingent on improvements in soviet immigration policy. now the term refuseniks was , highly used during this period in the united states and europe to refer to jews who had consistently been denied the right to emigrate by the soviet union. but when mikhail gorbachev came to power and instituted his policies of greater openness, jews were finally allowed to emigrate in greater and greater numbers. however, as soviet policy became more liberalized, their chances for coming to the united states became more restricted, because the immigration and naturalization service now
argued the jews could no longer claim persecution because the soviet union was easing up on its restrictions of the jewish population. the reason why the -- the reasons to emigrate were slowly starting to evaporate. it was american jewish groups who passionately advocated on behalf of the soviet refuseniks. it was these groups that reminded the bush and clinton administrations of their obligation to accept those who had once been at the center of foreign policy negotiation. it was this passionate advocacy on the part of american jewish groups that facilitated the entrance of over 358,000 former soviets, most of them jews, from 1990 to 1998. but here are some other examples. following the 1989 tiananmen square massacre, congress worked hard to pass legislation to allow chinese students studying in the united states to remain here.
many chinese students were afraid to return home because they had been supporters of the student protesters and they were afraid to go home and perhaps face retaliation on the part of the government. president george herbert walker bush objected to these congressional initiatives because he feared it might strain diplomatic relations with beijing. in the end, his administration in the end, his administration bowed to pressure and allowed students to remain in the u.s. and become citizens. here is another example of the importance of advocacy. during the 1990's, many undocumented cubans found asylum in the u.s. in large part because of the advocacy of the very vocal and politically
influential cuban american community in south florida. haitian boat people by comparison were more likely to be called economic migrants , despite the fact they were fleeing equally or more repressive conditions. haitians were much more likely to be detained and deported then -- than were the cubans and this did not change until the congressional black caucus took up the cause and forced a more humane response from congress. one final example of the importance of advocacy. the nicaraguan adjustment act allowed hundreds of thousands to remain in the u.s. and this legislation was the culmination of almost two decades of intense advocacy on the part of an unlikely coalition of the allies on the political left and political right.
but there are many other , examples i could highlight here about the importance of advocacy. as many of you know i have a new , book coming out in the spring , and i discuss many other cases of the importance of advocacy. advocacy has been key in the post-cold war period, very important in shaping the contours of our refugee and asylum policies. but here are three other factors , that have affected policy in the post-cold war era. the first is a growing number of asylum seekers. so who can tell me the , difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker. >> [inaudible] prof. garcia: absolutely correct. much has to do with where you are asking for protection. a refugee is identified for
resettlement in the united states. a refugee might come under the attention of the united nation commission for refugees who then contacts the u.s. or another country and asks if that person can be resettled in the person -- the person is subjected to intensive screening before they are allowed to emigrate. as kristin pointed out an asylum , seeker is essentially a refugee, but the asylum seeker asks for protection on u.s. soil. they might do so at a port of entry like an airport, at the u.s. -canada border, or they might come in as a student or a tourist and law they are here, -- why -- while they are here, they might ask for asylum. it has to do with location. where you ask for protection from the united states. during the 1990's alone half a , million people requested asylum. the numbers have continued to
grow since then. our asylum system is overburdened and immigration judges must hear an extraordinary number of cases each day just to move through the backlog. the majority of asylum-seekers do not receive asylum in the united states. asylum-seekers are not guaranteed legal representation, there is no due process as we understand it in our justice system. legal representation makes all the difference. in fiscal year 2010, for example, only 11% of those asylum-seekers who did not have legal representation were successful in receiving asylum. having legal representation makes all the difference, but most asylum-seekers do not have legal representation. they either cannot afford it or cannot receive pro bono representation because the system is stretched too thin. so that is the first factor in the post-cold war period,
something that makes the period different, asylum-seekers. terrorism on u.s. soil is a second factor that has affected refugee and asylum policy in the post cold war period. as a result of terrorism on u.s. world trade center bombing, and then 9/11, our immigration bureaucracy was completely revamped. today's terrorists -- refugees are the most about it in u.s. -- they are the most vetted in u.s. history to prevent would-be terrorists from entering the u.s. and causing harm. the state department tells us refugees can expect 18-24 months of vetting, screening before they are moved through the system and are considered for admission to the u.s. but being placed on a waiting list come even if you are successfully
vetted and asked to wait does not guarantee you will be admitted to the united states there is no waiting list per se. even iraqi and afghan translators and other personnel who have already been vetted to work with u.s. armed forces in the middle east, even they are not guaranteed admission to the united states. the asylum system has also been revamped in order to deter terrorist attacks. three years after the 1990 three -- three years after the 1993 world trade center bombing, congress passed the illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act. this law had two provisions that affected asylum-seekers in particular. expedited removal and automatic detention. the immigration officer at a port of entry today has a enormous authority to decide on
the spot if an asylum seeker has a credible fear of persecution that should be further evaluated by an asylum officer or immigration judge. but if the officer does not , consider the person to have a credible fear of persecution, he or she can order that person removed immediately from the united states and that process is known as expedited removal. asylum seekers are also held in theirion until there -- hearings. if you have friends or relatives in the u.s. , you might be released to them if they are willing to assume responsibility for your care. it can be a year or more before an asylum seeker is given authorization to work. more often than not, you are held in detention because since 9/11, most of our immigration bureaucracy would prefer to air
on the side of caution and hold people in detention then allow -- than allow somebody to be released into society that might cause us harm. a third development that has affected u.s. refugee policy since the end of the cold war is the growing number of people who do not meet the strict definition of refugee. according to our law. as we discussed earlier, refugee has a very precise, legal meaning. you must prove persecution because of race, nationality, membership in a particular group, political opinion. today's refugees and asylum-seekers do not always fall neatly into those categories. five those people that do not fall into those categories present as with all sorts of moral challenges. here are four issues particularly challenging to policymakers today. can child soldiers receive refugee status?
according to our law, only civilians can be refugees. but over the past two decades, some 300,000 children under 18 have been constricted against their will by one army or another to work as fighters, cooks, servants, sex you'll -- sexual slaves. prior to 9/11, a few hundred of these child soldiers succeeded in securing asylum and a few of them went on to write memoirs that called international attention to the plight of child soldiers. however they are the exception. , since 9/11, most child soldiers have been denied entrance to the united states because antiterrorist legislation passed in the wake of 9/11, bars the entrance of those who have offered material support to a known terrorist organization and many of the
armies that conscripted them against their will are on the terrorist watch list. here is policy number is there a two. better way to assist the trafficking? some 800,000 people are trafficked each year for labor or sex. even our own little town of ithaca, new york, has seen victims of trafficking. in order to receive protection from the u.s. under the trafficking victims protection act, one must be willing to assist law enforcement, which many are not willing to do because it would place their families at risk of retaliation from international trafficking. thus victims are faced with two , equally difficult options. in order to receive protection, from the united states you have , to be willing to testify abusers but in
, order to guarantee the safety of your family and villages, you must refrain from doing so. is there a better way to assist victims of trafficking? that is a question that is asked all of the time. challenge number three, what do you do with children who arrive unaccompanied in the u.s. ? thousands of children arrive in the united states each year by , themselves each year to escape domestic abuse, gang violence, poverty, trafficking. the border crisis of 2014 called attention to the growing number of unaccompanied children who were fleeing the criminal violence in central america. but fleeing criminal violence in , itself is not a legal realm of for asylum.und it doesn't guarantee you will receive asylum. those who do not have families in the u.s. are quietly returned to their countries of origin. but refugee advocates ask is it moral to return children to
dangerous conditions if their safety cannot be guaranteed? might there be another option? and then finally, a fourth challenge that confronts our policymakers today. are victims of environmental disaster entitled to protection? according to that united nations and international organization for migration, climate change related migration could reach as high as 200 million by 2050. that is not too far into the future. fleeing natural disaster in itself is not grounds for receiving asylum. or refugee status. there is another option for victims of climate change. the 1990 immigration act created a status known as tps, temporary protective status. if you were already in the united states as a tourist or student and war breaks out in
your country, or there is some disaster preventing you from to returning home safely, you might be eligible for temporary protective status. the recipients of tps are authorized to remain and work here until the state department ascertains that conditions in your country have improved sufficiently. in order to guarantee a safe return. at present nationals from 12 , different countries are potentially eligible for temporary protective status. however, these individuals liminal space in our society. they are allowed to live here temporarily. but they are denied the chance to adjust their status to permanent resident or citizen. except in a few circumstances. ofre are thousands
salvadorans, nicaraguans, and hondurans who have helped -- held temporary status for over a decade without the chance of normalizing their status. they have invested in their host societies but they don't have a chance to become full members of american society. at some point or another our , legislators will have to decide whether long-term residents under tps could be afforded the opportunity to become full citizens. as you can imagine this , proposition is sure to elicit a very heated debate in the halls of congress. these are just four of the many challenges policymakers are confronting at this very moment. the united nations high commissioner for refugees this past year announced at present, at this moment right now, there are some 60 million refugees and
displaced persons worldwide. that's 60 million, up from 14 million at the end of the 1990's. the u.s. is among 10 countries that carry out resettlement programs with the united nations. however, let me end with this sobering note. as generous as our policy is and has been and i and i in my -- family are beneficiaries of that generosity when we emigrated from cuba, the number of refugees the united states admits each year are a drop in the bucket. fewer than 1% of refugees are ever resettled to third countries like the u.s. it is -- it is the countries that
border areas with political conflict that have always borne the real burden of accommodating refugees. refugee camps like in jordan, which we see here, have become the size of cities with the exception that the residents, people who live there, do not have the chance to practice their profession, to run businesses, to own property, to move about freely, to choose where they are going to live. educational opportunities are largely absent. the things we take for granted in our day-to-day lives here are denied people who live in refugee camps. and around the world, there are refugees who have lived in the circumstances for over a decade. they have raised their families in these conditions. it is all that their children know. most of us are graphically such as thisplaces removed and suffering from what senator alan simpson once called
compassion fatigue, we are generally ignorant of their plight. thank you for your attention. i'm eager to hear your questions. so if you have any questions about any of the material or anything else on your mind. >> the teacher of the people -- the picture of the people walking through the water, what was that? prof. garcia: i forget which country in central africa, but it was one of the areas hard-hit by flooding. there are so many people around the world who are affected by typhoons, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, and they are becoming increasingly common. as you know. as we talked about a couple weeks ago, many of the individuals we consider to be political refugees today, in
some ways, they are also environmental refugees because when there is a natural disaster like an earthquake or typhoon or hurricane, it disrupts livelihood, and people are forced to cross international borders. when they move, they put pressures on the population where they have settled. that oftentimes leads to violence and political conflict and before you know it, you have a war or some other type of civil unrest. many individuals today who we call political refugees moved in the first place because of environmental dislocation. it is becoming increasingly hard to see the elliptical from the environmental from the political refugees. >> i wanted to ask about the syrian crisis.
prof. garcia: thank you for your question. stephen was asking about what kind of refugee system is in place in many other countries that have absorbed syrian refugees and other refugees. in the case of many countries that are host societies for refugees, many of them are not signatory to the u.n. convention on refugees or the 1967 protocol. so, it is somewhat startling. here are these countries who never signed the c-1 convention the u.n.u in
convention on refugees where they committed themselves to accept refugees. they never signed those conventions yet they have been forced because of circumstance to accommodate a number of refugees. in lebanon right now, one quarter of the population are refugees. jordan has accommodated tens of thousands of syrian refugees. they have done so working with the one to create these cams but -- camps, but they are hoping the camps will not be permanent and eventually, things will stabilize in syria so people can return home. it is the goal of the international organization for refugees to not be permanent residents in a society. the goal is to house them and help them temporarily until conditions stabilize and they can return home. when you look over the past 10 years, there have been a number of cases where refugees have been able to return home. in guatemala after the 1996 peace accord, many what a
-- many guatemalans were able to return to their lives and return to their old villages. that is the goal. thank you. >> can you talk a bit about how those programs were set up. either program set up for syrians and others? prof. garcia: that is a good question. was, is there anything comparable to the syrian refugee program for the syrian refugees? the cuban refugee program was unique in history. there has never been a program as generous as that. to help cubans retool life in the u.s.. it wasn't just the amount of money that was invested in the
community, it was also with the far-reaching programs. the federal government helped create programs at the university of miami, for example, to help cuban doctors and lawyers and engineers learn english and pass the certification exams that would allow them to practice their professions in the united states. because they noticed many of the cubans arriving in the 1960's were highly skilled and professional and had skills important to the u.s. economy , could not practice their but they professions in the u.s. because they did not speak english or needed a certification. so the cuban refugee program worked with local colleges in south florida so that cuban doctors, dentists, lawyers could take these courses. they could retool life in the united states. the cuban refugee program also helped individuals establish new careers. so for example, the federal government noted there were many
women who were arriving without their spouses in the united states because they were imprisoned in cuba. and these women had never worked in the labor force before so the cuban refugee program helped train these women to work as teachers or teacher aides in the public school system. the cuban refugee program also distributed monthly release -- relief checks to help a the rent and food like cheese and meat so families wouldn't go hungry until they became financially established in the united states. that is atypical. we have never seen a program like the cuban refugee program in american society. most refugees today, when syrian refugees come to the u.s. today, they qualify for the same assistance others receive, which is they are entitled to eight months of intensive assistance
from the federal government so the government works with a , number of police agencies across the u.s. like catholic charities, lutheran relief and these services help place refugees around the country. that assistance only last for about eight months. after that, the goal is you will have found employment and will be on the way to becoming fully integrated into u.s. society. thank you. >> you mentioned how the quota has never been filled before, and now the obama administration is increasing it, do think it will still go unfilled? prof. garcia: in case you didn't hear, she was asking if i thought that once the quarter is increased to 100,000 to accommodate more syrian refugees, whether i think that
quota will be filled. i don't think it will. if passed history is any indication and given how long it takes to vet a refugee, it is highly unlikely we will reach that quota. the 100,000 quota. thank you. prof. garcia: that is a good question. kristin asked whether we will exceed the 70,000 to 80,000. i think we will. if i had to guess, i think it will be between 85000 and 95,000 people who will be brought in. not all in mind that are syrian refugees. syrians are competing with refugees from other parts of the world. the quota has been expanded presumably to accommodate more syrian refugees but it's not guaranteed all those spaces will
go to syrian refugees. [inaudible] prof. garcia: if they commit a crime in the united states or are discovered to have lied about their past in some way, they can be deported if they have not become permanent residents. once they become permanent residents, even in some cases there have been cases of those who have been citizens and were stripped of their citizenship. and deported. we know of refugees later discovered to have lied about their participation in the genocide and once that information came to light, these
individuals who have normalized their status and become citizens were stripped of their to facehip and deported the consequences in their homeland. [inaudible] the question is if i could comment on the screening process for refugees and whether it would allow would-be terrorists to enter the u.s. no -- the united states. no screening process is 100% seal proof. there is no way to guarantee safety, there is just no way. i think it is less likely that a would-be terrorist would enter through the refugee tracks. if you have been reading the news, many individuals who are opposed to bringing in more syrian refugees always highlight the example of the tsarnaev
brothers, but they were not refugees. they came with their families as children with their parents as tourists. to the united states. once they were on u.s. soil, they asked for asylum and were vetted. they established roots in the u.s. there was no way to predict that these young men who immigrated as children would become radicalized on american soil and cause us harm. but they did not come in as refugees, during the refugee track. i think it is less likely for a would-be terrorist to enter. through the refugee track than the tourist track. thank you for your question. any other questions? thank you. >> does the united states have long-term plans in the future
for natural disasters? plans with our border country? prof. garcia: that is an excellent question. matt asked whether the u.s. , whether there are any policy debates underway about expanding a more humanitarian response to victims of climate change. claimant migration not that i know of at present. many of our think tanks and educational institutions are engaged in these conversations. but, as we have discussed the word refugee has a very precise legal meaning. in order to receive refugee status, you would need to reconsider or expand our definition of refugee in order to accommodate people who are victims of climate change. as i mentioned earlier, sometimes it's really hard to tease out the climate from the political refugees. so if a victim from some kind of , climate disaster can prove
persecution based on one of these categories, yes, that five individual might be able to receive refugee status in the united states. but based solely on climate change or climate migration, it no, it is highly doubtful. there isn't any move on congress to expand the definition of refugee that would take into account victims of climate change. these are all great questions. thank you. any other questions you might have? ok i will wish you a wonderful , afternoon. let me pass out the final prompt and i will wish you all a great afternoon. thank you so much for your attention. thank you for the excellent questions. >> you can watch lectures in history every weekend on