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21st Century Refugee Crisis: What are the stakes of resettlement? February 29, 2016

Washington D.C. — On February 29, SFS hosted a policy roundtable with Amb. Alberto Fernandez, former Congressman Peter Hoekstra, and SFS International Fellow Candice Malcolm, all engaged in a lively and insightful discussion of the current refugee crisis affecting the Middle East, Europe, and North America. The discussion was moderated by Jordan Bloom, opinion editor, The Daily Caller.

According to Amb. Fernandez, Vice President of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the response to the refugee crisis has become “an exercise in virtue signaling,” by many Western politicians. While pressure is placed on Western nations to solve the problems of a flood of migrants, political leaders, and others focus on humanitarian responses while largely ignoring the root causes of the migration: the lack of humanitarian involvement by Middle Eastern players, the ideological environment, and the security implications for the receiving nations.

The virtue signaling of the political classes is creating a shift in public opinion, according to Candice Malcolm, SFS International Fellow for Canada.The stress on overburdened welfare states in Europe is creating a new, and potentially volatile, political climate. Appeals for larger refugee numbers is taking place alongside the rise of anti-migrant forces, both on the right and the left. In Canada, Malcolm emphasized that the new Trudeaugovernment has pushed for higher migrant quotas despite warnings from resettlement and security agencies that capacity to process the refugees is being overstretched. Malcolm also pointed to effective private humanitarian efforts to alleviate the crisis without losing sight of the immense security challenges.

Former Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra, who served as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, reviewed the steady rise in the number of terrorist incidents since September 11. Hoekstra underscored that each time there’s a new failed state, decades are needed to restore a semblance of stability and reconstruction. The result is that prevailing problems are escalating and the situation abroad becomes more complex on a daily basis. Hoekstra was joined by the other panelists in emphasizing that the need to identify the enemy, its ideology, and to formulate a clear strategy for defeating radical Islam — is of paramount importance.

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