February 14, 2005


Refugees' Tales Heard by Powerful Audience of One: Bush's talk with emigres is credited for a marked increase in the number of admissions to the U.S. (Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, February 14, 2005, LA Times)

After hearing graphic stories of suffering directly from persecuted young people who fled to the United States, President Bush intervened personally to sharply increase the number of refugees admitted to the country — undoing the severe limits placed on such admissions for security reasons after the Sept. 11 attacks. [...]

The White House involvement over the last several months helped overcome security concerns, refugee advocates say. And they point to an encounter the president had with two refugees in June — arranged by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives — as a moment that motivated the president to apply pressure where it was needed.

"Those meetings jump-started a serious government effort to increase admissions last year," said Sarah Petrin, government liaison for a leading refugee advocacy organization, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

In the closed-door session with the president, organized by James Towey, a top aide to Bush and director of the faith-based office, two young refugees who arrived several years ago recounted their stories of bloodshed and escape.

A 21-year-old Liberian woman, Veronica Braewell, broke down in tears as she told Bush about her experience at age 13 of being left for dead on a pile of bodies by militants, of having watched them slice open the bellies of pregnant women and kill unarmed schoolchildren.

As she sobbed, the president handed Braewell a handkerchief and embraced her, Braewell recalled in a tearful interview from her home in Allentown, Pa.

She told the president of her plans to become a nurses' assistant, and thanked him for her rescue.

"Thank the American people," she said the president responded. "Lots of people make this possible," he said, and specifically mentioned the work of organizations like Lutheran Social Services and Catholic Charities, two religious groups that resettle refugees in the U.S.

Those organizations and others, such as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, have long urged the U.S. to maintain its leadership in rescuing refugees.

The parochialism of the anti-immigrationists can't prevail against the internationalism and universalism of the religious.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 14, 2005 7:49 AM

One question:

Why is Bush's compassionate support of a more liberal immigration policy a vehicle only for (once again) portraying the "nativist" side as uncaring, etc? Why is it not also a vehicle for exposing the cartoonish irrationality of the "do-gooding", liberal opposition's loath for a President who frequently breaks rank with the "uncaring" Right?

Posted by: Moe from NC at February 14, 2005 8:41 AM


I include the Left among the anti-immigrationists. Unions and blacks already oppose immigration and the rest will as soon as the Latino vote for the GOP goes over 50% in '08.

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2005 8:51 AM

No surpise here, given the identity of W's favorite philosopher. The rejection of Nativism was the first thing that set apart Christ's teaching from the particularism of His time.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 14, 2005 10:11 AM

Well, according to LGF, Vincente's in Algeria wanting to strengthen ties.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 14, 2005 10:55 AM

If unfettered immigration and "internationalism and universalism" are so wonderful why do you live in a state that's 96% white?

Posted by: carter at February 14, 2005 2:40 PM


It used to be 100% native. We took over.

Posted by: oj at February 14, 2005 2:55 PM
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