Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

Bono (aka Paul David Hewson), one of rock music’s most recognized figures, has long been a political activist working towards the eradication of poverty, hunger, and disease throughout the developing world, focusing much of his effort on raising money to combat the AIDS pandemic in Africa. His work has brought him into contact with some of the world’s most powerful political leaders, including the last two U.S. Presidents.

Bono recently weighed in on the refugee crisis facing Europe, which is also, as Bono pointed out in an op-ed in The New York Times, “an American one, too.” It is not unusual for celebrities to to call on governments to take “greater action” to deal with the refugee situation, by which they usually mean relocating millions from poorer nations to the United States and member countries of the European Union. Bono’s comments are unusual in that they go beyond mere virtue signaling and demonstrate an understanding of the actual challenge facing the West.

Lately some Western governments have been cutting overseas aid to spend money instead on asylum-seekers within their borders. But it is less expensive to invest in stability than to confront instability.

Here, Bono touches on a matter of great importance, and one of NumbersUSA’s foundational principles. That is, humanitarian efforts need to be aimed at the regions where people live if they are to be both ethical and practical. This maxim inspired Roy Beck’s gumballs video, which is now in its second iteration and has been viewed by millions of people.

What makes the gumballs video so effective is that it visualizes the impossibility of humanitarian aspirations overcoming mathematical reality. The idea that through immigration we can ease world poverty, alleviate population pressures, and provide economic opportunities to all those who want a better life in America is illogical, but the emotionalism that surrounds the immigration debate, especially refugee policy, can lead to responses that are counterproductive.

The ongoing influx of migrants from the Middle East into Europe has revitalized the immigration debate there as it threatens to dissolve the European Union, at least as it now exists. Bono pointed this out on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and his opinion is increasingly shared by E.U. officials. A large part of the problem for Europe is that most coming across its borders are not refugees but economic migrants, who are using the current crisis as a cover to gain entry, with the realistic expectation that once in the E.U. there is little chance they will ever have to leave. This is similar to the way tens of thousands of Central Americans have illegally crossed into the United States claiming asylum, and then disappeared into the interior after being released by the Obama Administration.

Geography has spared the United States from the waves of migrants that have poured into Europe, yet our own government refuses to take this opportunity to send a powerful message to the world on how to best address the crisis. Leader of both parties have instead chosen to engage in the usual moral posturing. President Obama’s request to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016 was approved by Congress, even though every government official who testified before Congress admitted there was no effective way to vet these refugees for national security risks. The Obama Administration recently revealed that it would begin processing 600 Syrian refugee applications a day, putting the safety of the American people at risk in order to meet an arbitrary quota. All in an effort to relocate 0.2% of Syrian refugees.

As Roy Beck says in the gumballs video:

Immigration can never be an effective or significant way to deal with the suffering people of the world. They have to be helped where they live.

That same is true for helping refugees. In fact, as Bono points out above, the money spent on a few asylum seekers within our own borders diverts resources that could help many more abroad. Would only our own political and religious leaders be as clearheaded and results-driven as Bono in addressing the refugee crisis.

ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA

National Security

Updated: Mon, Jul 24th 2017 @ 4:24pm EDT

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