Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez has compared the situation of those would-be immigrants in the famous caravan from Central America, who she claims are simply “turned away” at the American border, to Jews fleeing the Nazis. Of course, these people are not all being turned away just like that. They are merely being told to come to a designated point of legal entry, to present themselves and make their case for asylum. Some will be accepted, some will be rejected. Jews fleeing the Nazis had no such possibility. The few who did arrive in America, as on the refugee ship the St. Louis, were prevented from landing anywhere in America. The ships they were on, like the St. Louis, were turned back to Europe, where many of those who had been aboard were eventually murdered.
The Jewish refugees faced not the possibility of violence, but the certainty of being murdered in the concentration camps by the Nazis. They were fleeing torture and death, by the millions — in the end, six million were murdered. They had no place to find refuge. At the Evian Conference in 1938, which was called to discuss the plight of German Jewish refugees, all of whom might have been saved had foreign doors been open to them, only one of the 32 countries represented offered to take in any refugees. That single exception was the Dominican Republic. It took in 500 Jews.
The thousands of Central Americans cannot be compared to the Jews during the period of the Nazi murders. Violence there certainly is in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Terrible as that is, it is not the same thing as being rounded up by the Gestapo or the Wehrmacht, being shot, or gassed, or burned alive, or worked or starved to death. Much of the violence in Central America is among gang members who kill each other. No one, I trust, thinks we should be providing asylum to these gang members, some of whom are certainly among the refugees — after all, gang members can make even more money, through criminal activities, in the United States than at home. But what about those who are simply caught in the crossfire, forced to live among such violence? Is that enough to require the American government to admit them? Those most affected by such violence have been Hondurans. But in Honduras that violence has been steadily, and drastically, reduced. It was at its highest in 2011, when there were 85.5 murders per 100,000 people. By 2016, the murder rate had decreased to 59.1 killings per 100,000 people. It then decreased by another 25% in 2017, to 42.8 killings per 100,000 people. In other words, the rate of violence has been cut in half since 2011. Given that long decline, why should we not expect further declines in the level of violence? And how many of those killed were innocents, and how many were gang members? The reports do not say.
Again, the victims of this violence cannot be compared to the Nazi murders of Jews, where there were not 42 victims for every 100,000 people, but instead, something like 85,000 victims for every 100,000 Jews sent to the concentration camps. In 1933, Poland had the largest Jewish population in Europe, numbering over three million. By 1950, the Jewish population of Poland was reduced to about 45,000. Romania’s Jewish population was nearly 757,000 in 1930 and fell to approximately 280,000 (1950). Most of these demographic losses were due to the Holocaust, the rest to postwar emigration from Europe.
The Jewish population of central Europe was also devastated. Germany had a Jewish population of 565,000 in 1933 and just 37,000 in 1950. Hungary had 445,000 in 1933 and 190,000 in 1950. Czechoslovakia’s Jewish population was reduced from about 357,000 in 1933 to 17,000 in 1950 and Austria’s from about 250,000 to just 18,000.
The Jews were deliberately murdered, and they couldn’t get out — not out of Germany, and not out of any of the countries or territories occupied by Germany. But before Germany had taken over much of Europe, Jews could have escaped, if only they had a place to go to. But no one would take them in, with the exception of the Dominican Republic. The Central Americans — from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala — can not only get out of their countries with ease, but have several alternatives for refuge. America is not the only possible place for them to settle. Among the possibilities is the peaceful nation of Costa Rica, to which Central Americans have already been admitted. The United States could encourage Costa Rica to take many more asylum-seekers by increasing our aid to that country. This would allow migrants to remain in a comfortable Spanish-speaking environment, close to their countries of origin, and able to monitor the situation at home in case things quiet down and it becomes possible to return.
Aside from Costa Rica, other countries to which refugees from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala have gone are Panama, Nicaragua, Belize, and Mexico. They have also been going to countries in South America, save for Venezuela. In all of these places, they would be much safer than in their home countries, and in culturally and linguistically familiar environments. Most of them, however, still insist on trying to enter the U.S. because they are not, as many assume, merely fleeing violence. They are also economic migrants. They are fully aware of what the American government provides refugees — the free education, free or low-cost medical care, subsidized housing, and other benefits. They know, too, how much higher American salaries are, as compared to those in Central America.
Ocasio-Cortez compares the Central American refugees, those being kept out of the United States, with Jewish refugees being kept out of every country in the world, save for the few hundred who managed to make it to the Dominican Republic. But those that are being kept out have been vetted, and something not been quite right. They may have been exaggerating the extent of the violence they have suffered; they may themselves be gang members. They may only be economic migrants, using the excuse of gang violence to get themselves admitted to this big-hearted country. The desire to flee poverty should not be sufficient justification. If it were, 3/4 of the world would promptly come a-knocking, and have to be admitted.
These refugees are not even being “kept out” of the United States, as Ocasio-Cortez sems to think. They are merely being directed to apply for asylum at designated points of legal entry, where their applications can be submitted, they can be interviewed, and have their claim considered. When did the requirement of legal entry become an unheard-of crime against humanity?
To sum up:
Jews facing certain death from Hitler were turned away everywhere. They could not even flee to Mandatory Palestine, which was created as a homeland for Jews, because of the monstrous British refusal to admit them, a refusal enforced by a sea blockade. Central Americans do not face persecution and certain death, but only a heightened risk of death because of the general level of violence in society. That level is dramatically decreasing; in Honduras, it has been cut in half since 2011. These people trying to enter the United States have many other possible places of refuge — but they only want to settle for America. These include the relatively peaceful states of Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, and, of course, Mexico, where for some reason no one in that caravan seems inclined to settle. Central American refugees have also gone, by the thousands, to many South American countries, with the exception of Venezuela (where the economy is in total collapse because of the Marxists Chavez and now Maduro), and even, in some cases, to Europe, when they could afford the journey, for a visa is not required for Central Americans to enter Schengenland.
Ocasio-Cortez should read up on the world’s failure to rescue Jews when it mattered most, and compare their fate, and the numbers of victims, with that of the Central Americans, some of whom must endure societal violence but not wholesale deliberate murder, and who have a number of possible refuges, unlike those millions of Jews who, at their moment of maximum peril, had none.
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