Immigration

Ted Cruz's Terrible Case for Keeping out Hong Kong Refugees

His rationale is both weak and would have justified keeping out his own father - a refugee from Cuba.

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Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

 

On Friday, GOP Senator Ted Cruz blocked a bipartisan bill that would have granted political asylum to residents of Hong Kong fleeing China's increasingly oppressive rule there. Reason writer Eric Boehm has an excellent article critiquing Cruz's lame rationale for his actions. Among other things, he points out that the same theory would have justified keeping out Cruz's own father (who came to the US as a refugee from Cuba):

First, Cruz politicized the attempt to provide an exit strategy for Hongkongers, calling the bill a Democratic plot to "advance their long-standing goals on changing immigration laws." But the bill has a bipartisan list of cosponsors and passed the House earlier this month by a voice vote—usually an indicator of such broad support that no roll call is demanded.

Second, Cruz maligned Hong Kong refugees as potential spies, arguing that China would use the special immigration status to slip its agents into the United States. Except, well, China doesn't seem to have any trouble doing that already, and recipients of political asylum would have to undergo a background check before their status is granted. If anything, the bill's passage would ensure that immigrants from Hong Kong to America are subject to more vetting than they might otherwise receive.

Again, Cruz's father's story stands in stark contrast. Prior to fleeing to America, Rafael Cruz had worked for the Castro government in Cuba [small correction by IS: he actually supported Castro before the latter came to power, but later recanted those views after coming to the United States]. If Ted were a member of the U.S. Senate at the time, would he have viewed his own father as a potential spy who should not be trusted with political asylum?…

Cruz's biography aside, there is a more important and obvious point. Granting political asylum to Hongkongers looking to flee China is absolutely the right thing for the United States to do, politically and economically.

Politically, the image of tens of thousands of Hongkongers fleeing China's takeover of the city by relocating to the United States would be an international humiliation for the regime in Beijing. That's why China has tried to stop the United Kingdom from extending special immigration status to residents of Hong Kong—and the U.K. has responded, correctly, by turning its passport-making machines up to 11.

Economically, China's loss would be America's gain. An influx of people from Hong Kong—and the knowledge, skills, money, and entrepreneurship they would bring—would be an economic boon for the United States, particularly if they resettle in areas where the population is stagnant or declining.

Instead of seizing that opportunity, America got the spectacle of a child of a political refugee slamming a door in the face of people seeking the same opportunity that his own father once received.

I would add that the anti-espionage rationale could be and often has been used to bar refugees from almost any oppressive regime hostile or potentially hostile to the US. Among other things, it was one of the justifications used for barring Jews fleeing Nazi Germany in the 1930s. This is one of many objections to expanding migration rights that can easily be addressed by "keyhole solutions" that deal with potential problems by more targeted and less draconian means than keeping people out. We can simply vet people before giving them access to classified information, as is routinely done with native-born Americans applying for jobs that require security clearances.

If the fear is that Hong Kong refugees might give the Chinese government information that isn't classified, but instead is readily available to the public, that is something Chinese intelligence (and other adversaries) can easily obtain anyway. One of the costs of having a generally free society is that anyone who wants to—including foreign powers—can easily obtain a wide range of useful information. But this disadvantage is outweighed by the may benefits of openness, as proven by the success of relatively free societies in outcompeting closed authoritarian and totalitarian states.

In this May post, I offered a more detailed defense of accepting Hongkongers -and of extending that openness to mainland victims of Chinese government oppression (some of whom have suffered far worse atrocities than anything yet seen in Hong Kong). In that post, I also address a range of other objections to opening the door to Chinese refugees, including claims that it might spread the Covid-19 virus, and that it would be unfair to privilege Chinese refugees over those facing comparable oppression elsewhere. Among other things, I highlighted how too many conservatives—including, now Cruz, who has especially strong reason to know better—have forgotten the lessons their ideological forbears learned during the Cold War:

During the Cold War, American conservatives readily understood that welcoming refugees from Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other communist nations was a major boost to America's prestige and a blow to that of the communists. The better political system is the one people "vote with their feet" to live under, not the one many risked their lives to flee. I myself was one of the fortunate beneficiaries of this understanding.

Tragically, today many conservatives have lost sight of what their predecessors knew. Instead of welcoming Chinese, they foolishly want to make it harder for them to come, by, for example, barring Chinese students from studying STEM subjects at US universities (after which many seek to stay in the US and continue contributing to the economy and our technological development). It is almost as if these supposed China hawks would prefer for the brutal Chinese government to retain control over as many talented people as possible….

We can, if we choose, once again be the nation that even the populations of our adversaries can aspire to join. That's a much better image than being the nation that closes its doors to almost all migrants and refugees seeking permanent residency, and brutally separates families at the border. Not only is the former nation more just than the latter. It also has a much better chance of effectively countering China in any geopolitical competition, and winning world opinion over to our side.

 

NEXT: 5th Cir. Judge Willett (former Tex. Sup. Ct. Justice Willett) Praises His Old Colleagues' Speed ....

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  1. News flash:

    Ted Cruz is a complete asshole.

    1. ^^^the best thing one can do is ignore Cruz. I remember in one of the Republican debates in 2015/16 the moderator asked if anyone was a climate change denier and Cruz tried to say something but Trump just talked over him. Cruz’ said it best—Cruz is a sniveling coward that allowed Trump to trash his wife.

    2. News flash:

      All Senators are…

    3. There’s no question that he’s a complete asshole.

      Doesn’t mean he isn’t right that the PRC would make sure a substantial number of spies came into the US under such a program, though.

      We’d have to be careful about that, at least.

  2. More to the point, why is the Senate run so that any individual asshole can block a very popular bill?

    Is it not possible to get rid of this kind of crap? If Cruz has an argument, he can make it, but then go ahead and vote.

  3. If the proponents of this bill wanted Ted Cruz’s obsequious support, they should have called his wife a hideously ugly pig a few times — he would have responded by scheduling a rally for the bill.

    That’s the proven route to success with Sen. Cruz.

  4. The UK wants to take them. We should let them.

    If they are such a benefit, an important ally benefits. If a detriment, then those who made this mess by betraying Hong Kong in the first place have to bear it.

    1. Don’t worry, Bob. Hong Kongers aren’t going to immigrate to Ohio.

      And neither will anyone else.

      1. This says otherwise

        https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-ohio

        I will be ok so long as you stay out.

        1. Ohio benefits from immigrants’ active participation in the economy: immigrants account for one in seven Ohioans working in computer sciences as well as one in eight workers in the life, physical, and social sciences. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Ohio’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

          Immigrants in Ohio have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

          Immigrant-led households in the state paid $3.8 billion in federal taxes and $1.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2018.
          Undocumented immigrants in Ohio paid an estimated $236.1 million in federal taxes and $127.5 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
          Ohio DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals paid an estimated $11.9 million in state and local taxes in 2018.

          As consumers, immigrants add billions of dollars to Ohio’s economy.

          Ohio residents in immigrant-led households had $14 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

          Immigrant entrepreneurs in Ohio generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

          30,432 immigrant business owners accounted for 6 percent of all self-employed Ohio residents in 2018 and generated $891.7 million in business income.
          In the following Ohio metropolitan areas in 2018, at least one in ten business owners was an immigrant. Immigrants accounted for:
          18 percent of business owners in the Columbus metro area,
          12 percent in Cleveland/Lorain/Mentor, and
          9 percent in Cincinnati/Middleton (which spans Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana)

          So why don’t you want them coming?

          1. You falsely said “neither will anyone else”. Always best to correct the record.

            1. You sure got me there, Bob.

              1. Ohio would be among the states that could benefit most from a substantial number of immigrants, who would bring ambition, drive, entrepreneurship, education, skills, and other positive attributes to some declining, dispirited communities that could use a boost.

                1. As if you could even find Ohio on a map.

                  1. I have attended a half-dozen shows a year (Stones, Who, Springsteen, Southside, Green Day, Elvis Costello, Pure Prairie League, Doobies, Fur Peace, etc.) in Ohio for at least 35 years. I may still have tickets for the next Stones show in Cleveland (unless Ticketmaster refunded the cash).

                    Other than those 200 trips, though, and the year my child reported for an Ohio television station . . . great comment!

                    1. Stones in Ohio

                    2. Can you say what you did at Fur Peace?

                    3. A few shows. One course.

          2. I am in favor of a more liberal immigration policy, but it seems the democratic immigration platform is merely an “ally ally oxen free” declaration for anyone that can get too the Mexican border.

            I am also not in favor of having a private immigration system so corporations can pick and choose who they want to immigrate in return for working for below market wages for 5-10 years.

            1. You should read the Democratic immigration proposals, rather than taking your position from the right – they tend to strawman.

              1. strawman?

                Pot meet kettle, kettle, meet pot.

            2. So what do you think of this Hing Kong proposal?

          3. Because most of them are Democrat Party voters.

    2. Bob, the fix is in. We need more *ahem* taxpayers to pay for the next wave of debt we are going to have with this gigantic stimulus bill we are going to get. A growing population is the only way out of it. Well, aside from a war with China where we cancel the debt.

      At least the Hong Kongers are from a high IQ nation, unlike Somalia.

      Look on the bright side. Maybe, because they are fleeing communist oppression overseas, they will be like the first wave of Cubans and oppose the communist party, I mean Democrat Party (but I repeat myself) oppression over here in America.

      1. We need more *ahem* taxpayers to pay for the next wave of debt we are going to have with this gigantic stimulus bill we are going to get.

        Maybe, because they are fleeing communist oppression overseas, they will be like the first wave of Cubans and oppose the communist party, I mean Democrat Party (but I repeat myself) oppression over here in America.

        Stop being a jackass if you want your comments to be taken seriously. Right now you’re in Dr. Ed territory.

  5. While I absolutely agree with the post, I do wonder if it would have been such a bad thing if Ted Cruz’s father had been kept out of the country. If nothing else, at least according to Trump Kennedy would not have been shot.

    1. I’m definitely not in favor of shooting Kennedy’s, due process and a stiff jail sentence seems about right to me.

  6. I think Somin has a problem in this article in that he takes Cruz’s verbal arguments at face value.

    The purpose of the policy has nothing to do with precedent or good governance or what is good for America in any way. It is all about cruelty. That is what the Trump base wants and Ted is going to deliver. Everything else is just a rationale towards that end.

    1. https://news.yahoo.com/us-election-results-why-trump-005222153.html

      Seems like some actual minorities do not share your opinion. Full court of “cruelty” and “racism” for 4 years.

    2. Orbital Mechanic : “That is what the Trump base wants and Ted is going to deliver”

      You know the kind of spectacle that sears your eyeballs with gross ugliness, yet you still feel compelled to watch? That’s what it’s gonna be like following Republicans as they playact being loathsome petulant brat children to catch some of that ol’ Trump Magic.

      “we can lie too”, they’ll wail out. “We’ll also be petty, slimy, crudely ignorant – or just plain crude” But I bet the MAGA faithful watch with arms-crossed, stone-faced, frowning with disapproval ’cause they recognizing the poseur in their efforts.

      It’s gonna ugly & funny at once – watching all the GOP hopefuls debase themselves trying to out-Trump Trump …. and fail miserably in the bargain.

      1. Actually, what you’re going to get, is a whole lot of Republicans taking the approach that they should cheat to win elections too. They used to do that to you know, and the Democrats were just better at it. Look up the 1960 election for some illumination on it.

        1. 1960? Reaching pretty far back, aren’t you? Going to bring up LBJ next?

  7. Might Ted Cruz’s pathetic, elongated display of cowardice and weakness with respect to Donald Trump’s treatment of Mrs. Cruz prevent Prof. Volokh from endorsing Sen. Cruz for president again?

  8. Strictly speaking, as an ex-UK colony/dependency, it falls to the UK to provide asylum in this case. Just like for Cuban refugees, it fell to the US.

    1. I believe they have moved to do just that.

  9. “calling the bill a Democratic plot to “advance their long-standing goals on changing immigration laws.” But the bill has a bipartisan list of cosponsors and passed the House earlier this month by a voice vote—usually an indicator of such broad support that no roll call is demanded.”

    Ha ha ha!!!!

    Having a bipartisan list of cosponsors is the clearest possible tell than they slipped a bunch of shit in there to please both immigration activists, corporations, and anyone else that can afford a congressman or two.

    And the more shit they slipped in to let anyone one and everyone in, whether a Hong Kong permanent resident or not, the happier Ilya would be.

    I’ll believe this post when I see the provision in the bill which unequivocally limits the benefits to Hong Kong permanent residents, or domestic helpers on a HK work visa (since 95% of Hong Kong domestic helpers are indonesian or Filipina women between 20 and 45, they can’t help but be desirable immigrants).

    1. As a typical example of a bipartisan bill, with numerous cosponsors that can pass on a voice vote take the covid relief bill, which will almost certainly pass next week.

      In this “desperately needed” stimulus to rescue the US economy there is a provision for 10 million for gender programs…in Pakistan.

      “(2) ASSISTANCE.-Of the funds appropriated under title III of this Act that are made available for Pakistan.. and not less than $10,000,000 shall be for assistance made available for gender programs.”

      1. You are being disingenuous. (Or, given that I doubt you read all 5,593 pages of the bill text to find this item,¹ I’m assuming someone told you that and you are just being gullible.) That is not in the coronavirus relief bill. They are passing an omnibus appropriations bill, of which the coronavirus bill is a separate part. That Pakistan appropriation is part of a normal foreign aid appropriation — not part of the $900 billion coronavirus relief package.


        ¹Well, that provision is on page 1,494 of the PDF, so maybe you stopped there?

  10. It’s actually the potential for Chinese spies amongst the refugees that I worry about. Of course, just like other immigrants, we all know will be thoroughly vetted for patriotic American values. We all know Chinese spies do not do things, like be set up spies as drivers for California senators or that China doesn’t spend honeypots named Fang Fang to bang Democrat members of Congress on the intel committee.

    1. I know you’re eager to blow up this minor contact with Swalwell like the good stenographer you have begun (you used to be smarter than that), but read the OP.

      Cruz maligned Hong Kong refugees as potential spies, arguing that China would use the special immigration status to slip its agents into the United States. Except, well, China doesn’t seem to have any trouble doing that already, and recipients of political asylum would have to undergo a background check before their status is granted. If anything, the bill’s passage would ensure that immigrants from Hong Kong to America are subject to more vetting than they might otherwise receive.

      1. “I know you’re eager to blow up this minor contact with Swalwell…”

        Come on Sarcastro, I know Swalwell isn’t likely to make Christine Fang’s top ten, or even top 50, but it seems pretty cruel to automatically dismiss their encounters as “minor” even if they weren’t very memorable for her, other than professionally of course.

        1. Fang took part in fundraising activity for Swalwell’s 2014 re-election campaign

          Swalwell’s office was directly aware of these activities on its behalf, the political operative said. That same political operative, who witnessed Fang fundraising on Swalwell’s behalf, found no evidence of illegal contributions.

          Federal Election Commission records don’t indicate Fang herself made donations, which are prohibited from foreign nationals.

          Fang helped place at least one intern in Swalwell’s office.

          What happened: Amid a widening counterintelligence probe, federal investigators became so alarmed by Fang’s behavior and activities that around 2015 they alerted Swalwell to their concerns — giving him what is known as a defensive briefing.
          Swalwell immediately cut off all ties to Fang, according to a current U.S. intelligence official, and he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

          Fang left the country unexpectedly in mid-2015 amid the investigation. She did not respond to multiple attempts by Axios to reach her by email and Facebook.

    2. OK. Definitely Dr. Ed territory.

  11. Asians need to vote Republican more often before more Democrats are let in. Asylum and accelerated citizenship should be offered to the 4 million white South Africans. They should get US assistance to sneak out their assets. Settle them all in California, which is similar to their homeland.

    1. Yes, as far as voting, Asians are as bad as the blacks and mestizos.

      1. Why Jews vote for the Democrat Party, the mortal enemy of Israel, is also very mysterious. That party is also the party of the KKK, and of poverty and crime victimization. It is the party of the lawyer, of course.

        1. As an ex-Jew who grew up around these people, I can tell you why. It’s a combination of hating Christianity and having this bizarre delusion that another Hitler is always lurking around the corner. So by diluting the white vote and power, they are, in their mind, reducing the possibility of that other Hitler coming to power.

          1. Do you mean Franklin Roosevelt opposed Hitler? Biggest anti-Semite who only did so after Japan attacked the US.

          2. The comments section continues its descent.

            1. Truth hurt? I sat around enough seder tables to hear what these people say when they think only allies are listening.

            2. Your criticism is invalid if you voted for Biden.

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