Fighting Syrian Refugees… With Lies

by Jason Dzubow on December 2, 2015

The recent attacks in Paris have opened the floodgates of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment in the U.S. Language that was once the province of white-supremacist screeds has become part of our mainstream dialogue. For me, however, what’s worse than the xenophobia and the hate, are the lies.

The New York Times recently editorialized about Donald Trump’s repeated and vile mendacity: “it’s become a full-time job just running down [his] falsehoods…. It’s no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it’s an important one.”

What if cheating at politics was as dangerous as cheating at poker?

What if cheating at politics was as dangerous as cheating at poker?

Mr. Trump is a presidential contender, and thus subject to some scrutiny. But the internet abounds with lies, and given the atomized nature of social media, it’s easy to immerse yourself in this fictitious and paranoid world. It’s also easy and, in a way, comforting to have your own world view go unchallenged, and to believe that you are among the privileged few who knows The Truth. The Lame-stream media be damned!

There are, of course, websites devoted to correcting inaccurate internet rumors, but how can they possibly keep up with the torrent of falsehoods that daily flood our in-boxes? And even if they could respond to each phony news story, the people who accept such stories are unlikely to read—or believe—the fact-checkers.

Given the futility of the task, there’s probably little point in posting a few internet rumors here and then debunking them. But one of my two favorite fictional heroes is Don Quixote, and so I thought I might tilt at a couple of wind mills (if you must know, my other favorite fictional hero is Rocky Balboa – Yo). Anyway, here are a few “news” stories that arrived in my in-box post-Paris, and some thoughts on their veracity:

– From Brian Hayes at Right Side News: “BREAKING: They’re Here! First Load of 10,000 Syrian Refugees Has Arrived in New Orleans…” Accompanying the article is a photo showing dozens of swarthy young men, looking vaguely dangerous. Have these young jihadists landed in New Orleans? Are 10,000 Muslims invading the Big Easy? No, in fact, the photo of the young men was taken in Hungary in September 2015 and has nothing to do with refugees in New Orleans. Also, while President Obama has committed to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees, very few have arrived in the U.S. What we know is that over the last four years, the U.S. has resettled a total of 2,070 Syrian refugees as part of the regular refugee admissions process. As for New Orleans, it appears that two Syrian families have arrived and one more family is expected. So much for the 10,000 young jihadists.

– From Jeffrey T. Kuhner of the World Tribune: “Obama welcomes an Islamist Trojan horse: Consider who is selecting our refugees.” This article claims that under the President’s plan “millions [of refugees] could be allowed to flood our country” and that “the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees… in coordination with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation… selects which refugees can be settled within our country.” It also states that “Mr. Obama now poses a clear and present danger to America [because of his] stubborn insistence on resettling so-called ‘refugees’ from Syria.” Where to even begin with this nonsense? First, 10,000 ≠ 1,000,000. Mr. Obama has been president for almost seven years. Until the recent announcement about the 10,000 Syrian refugees, he has continued the same refugee policy as President Bush. So don’t try to tell me that all of sudden, in his final year in office, somehow “millions” of refugees will arrive on our shores. Second, while refugees are often referred to the U.S. by UNHCR, the United States (through the State Department, DHS, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement) conducts the background checks and decides which refugees to accept. Neither the Organization of Islamic Cooperation nor the UN decides which refugees will be allowed to resettle in our country. Finally, what the hell is a “so-called” refugee? I suppose the implication is that the people fleeing the Syrian civil war are not really refugees. Maybe the whole “so-called” civil war in Syria is just a farce to send jihadists to the West. They sure put on a good show, those Syrians.

– From Andrew C. McCarthy in the National Review: “Refugee ‘Religious Test’ Is ‘Shameful’ and ‘Not American’ … Except that Federal Law Requires It.” Mr. McCarthy writes–

Under federal law, the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum. Under the provision governing asylum (section 1158 of Title 8, U.S. Code), an alien applying for admission must establish that … religion [among other things] … was or will be at least one central reason for persecuting the applicant.

In reality, 8 U.S.C. § 1158 states that, in order to qualify as a refugee, a person must establish that she faces persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, particular social group or political opinion. It is not a religious test at all. If you fear persecution on account of religion (any religion-including Islam), or any other protected ground, you can qualify for asylum. Either Mr. McCarthy has no understanding of the Immigration law or–more likely–he is twisting the language of the law into something it is not. Either way, he has no business writing about this subject.

Professional liars like Mr.Hayes, Mr. Kuhner, and Mr. McCarthy clearly have an agenda–to inflame passions against Muslim refugees. They create an alternate reality where President Obama is “willing to potentially sacrifice countless Americans on the altar of liberal multiculturalism [and] is gambling with our lives.” Well then, it sounds like he must be stopped–by any means necessary.

But of course the “alternate reality” described above is not reality. It is a false story, planted to paint Mr. Obama as a “clear and present danger” to our republic. Had Mssrs. Hayes, Kuhner, and McCarthy bothered with the facts, they would have found a much more nuanced situation, where reasonable people can disagree on policy, and where no one is evil.

The danger of all this should be obvious. When we falsely label other Americans as the enemy, when we use inflammatory and divisive language, and when we forgo efforts at understanding those who disagree with us, we damage our democracy and impoverish our national debate. In the black-and-white world of the fear-mongers, it makes sense to open fire on a Planned Parenthood Clinic. And if “so-called refugees” are actually disguised jihadists, wouldn’t it make sense to subject them to the same treatment?

Reality is complicated and messy. The straw men we create to comfort and enrage ourselves rarely comport with reality. There are legitimate grounds to oppose refugee resettlement, and the more rationale opponents of refugees rely on such arguments. But that is not what we are talking about here. There are far too many liars and charlatans involved in the refugee debate. Their false alarms are designed to turn Americans against each other. And that is a real threat.


{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina January 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Hi Jason,
I wrote in early December regarding my asylum and landlord /roommate. The asylum office sent me receipts and finger print notice and he intercepted the mails.How did I know?He said he went to usps to tell them never to deliver my mails to his box and that a usps supervisor showed him 4 mails in my name and my 2 kids names.I went to usps office everyday for a week and they said they delivered every mail addressed to that address and the supervisor said she never showed him any mails.I called miami asylum office and they said they sent out my finger print notice since November. I have mailed a request for them to resend the receipt to my friends address but still no response. I call them almost on a daily basis,they put me on voice mail and never return my calls.I am in such a limbo as I don’t know what to do with my kids.We are in Florida. Worst part is I have run out of funds.I became aware of the intercepted mails middle of December.I went to the police department to report the case and the officer told me that, they couldn’t go to the man based on accusations of sexual harrasments and mail interception that I couldn’t prove. But he said he saw my mails at the post office,the post office said that they delivered the mails and immigration office confirmed sending out mails to me to his address. I moved out of his place in December. He even gave his girlfriend in Jamaica my number and she sent me messages, harassing me.please what do I do?


Jason Dzubow January 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

I would do two things: (1) File a Freedom of Information Act request (form G-639 available at to get a copy of your file. If you find a fingerprint appointment in there, go to the appointment, even if it is late; it will be fine; (2) File a change of address form, AR-11, with the asylum office itself, and have them send your mail to a safe address. You might also go there in person or email them (you can find their email if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator) and ask them for a new fingerprint appointment notice. Good luck, Jason


Tina January 17, 2016 at 7:59 pm

THANK you Sir. I appreciate your advice and selfless services.


Asush December 10, 2015 at 12:04 am

Hi Jason. I have submitted my asylum case in November 2014 since then it is pending in Arlington . Because of the big earthquake in my country I lost my house. Still it was ok I was just hoping for getting interview date and waiting. But now the situation becoming worse my wife mental health problem is being really problematic . She is weekly visiting the doctor but there is not any improvement. It is really intolerable for me to leave my mentally ill wife and my 6 years son in the place where they have potential fear. My question is can I expedite my case on the basis of above situation . And what if they expedited the case? Should I have to wait for the turn I mean que of short list ? Or they can do my interview within 1-2 months? I really need your help.


Jason Dzubow December 10, 2015 at 10:22 pm

There is currently no short list in Arlington, but you can request that the case be expedited. Get some evidence of your problems back home (like a doctor’s note) and submit it with a letter to the asylum office. Hopefully they will expedite your case – it could be very fast or very slow; it is really unpredictable. Also, before you expedite, make sure you have submitted all the documentation for your case. Good luck, Jason


Alee December 9, 2015 at 2:05 am

Hello Mr. Jason,
My wife submitted i589 in Sep 14 in Chicago, im included. From Dec 15 i have formed a Corporation and got into an agreement with a company as their agency.
My question is, is it possible that i get E2 states (including my wife) and she withdraws her i589? We are from country which is allowed for E2


Jason Dzubow December 9, 2015 at 7:14 am

Maybe, but it might require you and your family to leave the US and then return with an E2. I highly recommend that you find a lawyer to assist you with the process, as that will reduce the possibility of a problem (like leaving the US and being unable to return). Take care, Jason


Tina December 7, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Hi Jason,
I know my question is not relevant to the topic above but I just need to ask.
I am here with my minor kids and did an asylum application myself.
I am particularly worried that no one wants to rent us a place because I do not have ssn or work history.
People have taken advantage of my situation and this is my second roommate in 3 months. He made lewd comments that I didn’t encourage so he started treating the kids and i like trash.He doesn’t respond to my kids greetings sometimes and has told me that if I don’t move when the 3 month lease we signed is up on the 20th of this month,he would call the cops to get us out.I am out 5000 usd living from one place to another. All the charity homes I called said they were full to capacity.please what are my options as I don’t want to end up on the streets with my kids. I can still afford an all inclusive rent of 600 for the next 4months but no one wants to rent to me because I’m not working .please what do I do.


Jason Dzubow December 8, 2015 at 11:50 pm

I don’t know where you are, but most cities have a Catholic Charities office – they help all asylum seekers (at least with advice). If they cannot help you directly, they might be able to point you in the right direction. Unfortunately, it is very easy to take advantage of people in your situation and some people do it. If you ever feel in danger, though, you can call the police and they should help you. Take care, Jason


Nadia December 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm

Hi Jason,
I have a question if I may ask?
How atheist make oath in asylum interview
Thank you very much


Jason Dzubow December 8, 2015 at 11:48 pm

“Do you swear or affirm to tell the truth.” The oath has nothing to do with any deity, though personally, I think a little prayer helps at times like this…


Ali December 7, 2015 at 11:25 am

Hi Jason,

I have a pending asylum case in Houston office. My wife arrived in the US on a visitor visa after the case was submitted. We were married before the case was submitted. She is listed as a spouse on my case. What steps do I need to take to add her to my case?
Given the current delays in the scheduling of interviews, it appears her visa will expire before the interview. Waiting for my case to approved before adding her would mean she might have to over stay her visa or leave the US. Both options are bad for us.

Thank you


Dale Lee December 8, 2015 at 12:23 am

Why am I keep writing here although people are asking for Jason, not me? Because I got nothing better to do.

I don’t really get your question. You said that your wife is listed as a spouse on your asylum application. This means that she is already added to your asylum case.

Also, the Houston office and NYC office have the lowest approval rates in the country. Avoid them like the plague. Would you like the 14.48% approval rate from Houston (based on most recent stat of 06/2015) or 74.73% approval rate from San Fran (based on the stat from the same time)?
If I were you, I would seriously consider moving out of that worst jurisdiction for asylum seekers, even if doing so causes a delay and expense.

I’m not an attorney and the above is not legal advice. This interaction does not create an attorney-client relationship.


Jason Dzubow December 8, 2015 at 11:52 pm

The difference here is that she is listed on his application, but he did not check the box stating that she is included as a dependent in his application. However, as I mentioned, he can add her to the case so she will get a work permit. I hope all is well, Jason


Jason Dzubow December 8, 2015 at 11:47 pm

You can add her to your case – contact the Houston office and they should tell you the procedure (the procedure might be different there than in my office – I do not know, but it should be pretty easy to add her). If you need contact info for the office, follow the link on the right side of this page “Asylum Office Locator” and it will take you to the email address. Take care, Jason


James December 5, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Hey Jason I do need an advice.
I applied in the Chicago office back in July 2013 while I was still a student. I have graduated in May of this year and I got a contract job in San diego in late July 2015. San Diego is covered under the LA office which now apparently interviewing people who applied in 2011. So with that I am reluctant to transfer my case to the LA office obviously. Would that cause any prob when I finally got an interview? I keep my Chicago address because my friend still lives in the house and would stay there for a while..I initially thought that I w’d receive my interview by now but that did not happen. Soon I’d be living in San Diego for 6 months now, although I have a contract job which can end any time. any advice how to handle this?? with the Chicago office at least I have a little hope that my case might be soon interviewed.


James December 5, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Also, How can I put my name on the waiting list in the Chicago office?


Jason Dzubow December 7, 2015 at 2:10 am

You need to email them and ask – there is a link at the right called Asylum Office Locator. It will lead you to the Chicago asylum office email address.


Jason Dzubow December 7, 2015 at 2:09 am

There is no mathematical formula for this – if the asylum officer thinks you moved to CA but did not change your address, it could cause problems for your case. But if you have a lot of evidence that your permanent address is in Chicago and the CA job is temporary, then you should be alright. I do suggest you talk to a lawyer about this, in order to protect yourself as much as possible. Take care, Jason


Dale Lee December 5, 2015 at 5:14 pm

I love the Donald. Being an immigrant and a member of racial minority, not because of his perspectives but because how entertaining he is. I’ve never seen a person so entertaining in politics.
Let me give you some examples.
The Donald’s attack on Jeb:
saying that Jeb went to see his “papa and mama” when Jeb met with his family and the Bush supporters
An attack ad saying that Jeb is low-energy, that he could help if you have trouble sleeping while showing a woman dozing at his speech.
Saying that Jeb and Rubio were “kissing and hugging” (with the Donald’s body language suggesting that they’re gay) when they met each other in the past.

Attacks on others:
“Scott Walker!? Who? Who?” (implying that Walker is so low on the polls he can’t even recognize the name)
The episode of Trump exposing Linsey Graham’s phone number and the senator responding by doing all sorts of brutalities to his cell phone.

Further, I don’t really worry about Trump having a major influence in immigration policies. He’s too radical, even by Midwestern Republican standards, to win the election. Note that Fox’s O’Riley, another despicable bigot, thinks that Trump’s plan of deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants and their US citizen kids is not going to happen.


T.J. January 13, 2016 at 3:49 am

Man people like to use the words racist and bigot. Just because we believe in laws and rules, does not mean we are bigots. My brother in law was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He was an illegal immigrant from mexico. He died on a motorcycle. He supported his family here and back home with hard work.
I know many many good Mexican men and women. However, I also know a lot of bad ones. That’s not racist. I know horrible whites and blacks as well. The problem is not racial/racist. The issue is, we have enough people breaking rules, driving drunk, raping minors/women, joineing gangs, etc. We have enough people living off of welfare, wic, food stamps, free college, in prisons (costing $50,000 per prisioner per year). Any one who acts like all of this is not a problem, is either too emotionally involved or a liar.

Donald trump has a crude way of saying it, but he isn’t racist for saying it. Hardworking men and women: Asian, white, Latino, black, etc, are paying tax, following rules, barely making it working 65-85 hours a week, while millions of illegal immigrants and false refugees (economic migrants aren’t refugees) come over and bleed us dry.

Nearly every American you meet will admit that it is too hard for Mexicans to be legal here. We make it easier to come as an illegal than legal. That needs to change. We need to stop letting companies bring people for cheap while charging the poor so much. However, we can not and should not be expected to take in everyone and them live off the system forever. Our country is going down economically, if we do not change things. Then migrants, illegals, the poor, asylum seeker/refugees, will have nothing here worth coming for.

How about instead of calling everyone racist and bigot, you all start listening?


Lora December 4, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Hi Jason

Thanks so much for everything you been doing help people
I want to ask something am seeking asylum LGBT but now I have a feeling for someone, I feel my life is missed up don’t know what to think or to do about it I don’t want to lie to that person about me and I really like him will that jeopardize my case if we came to a point to get married i feel like am (BI) please help me thank you


Jason Dzubow December 7, 2015 at 1:53 am

I suppose it depends on the case, but we have done cases where a person with an LGBT claim got married to a person of the opposite sex and got their green card. You must be prepared to explain what happened, and maybe you’d be better off with a lawyer to help you, but I think it is possible. Take care, Jason


T.J. January 13, 2016 at 3:37 am

What the “b” stands for should tell you all you need to know. But be prepared to answer for it, because people say they are seeking based on LGBT when they really aren’t. They can’t say they are Christian if they are Muslim – for religious purposes, so they’ll lie. My immigration law class studied this in detail and it happens quite a lot. Don’t lie, if you are bisexual, as it is still asylum worthy. Persecution sees gay as gay, no matter your preference, and state agencies know this – even though many in the lgbt community don’t see it. Just don’t lie. We have enough of that in this refugee crisis and people in need are being left out for others to claim refuge when really they want more than their last life (ie. economic migrants).


Abe December 3, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Hi Jason,
I have a question about the interview.. If I have a video evidence on my phone or computer, will I be able to show them?


Jason Dzubow December 4, 2015 at 7:32 am

Probably not, though you could put it on a thumb drive and give it to them, or put it on You Tube and give them the link. For that situation, I recommend that you make a transcript of the video and a translation of the transcript – so everything is in writing – and give that to the asylum office with a screen shot (or shots) from the video. They will prefer to have the transcript so they can read it. Take care, Jason


Abe December 5, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Thank you for your reply!


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