3/4 in U.S. want less Arab immigration

By Jon Dougherty

More than three-fourths of Americans want U.S. immigration laws tightened to allow fewer immigrants from Arab or Muslim nations into the country.

Instead, Washington pays to move Muslims to the United States.

According to a recent Worldviews 2002 survey, 76 percent of Americans say that “based on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, U.S. immigration laws should be tightened to restrict the number” of Arab or Muslim immigrants.

Also, 77 percent said they favored restricting immigration “in order to combat terrorism.”

“Outside the terrorism context, opinion also tilts toward decreasing immigration in general, suggesting that the 9-11 attacks may have fueled a broad reaction against ‘outsiders,'” said the survey.

Yet, under the Refugee Act of 1980, the government’s Office of Refuge Resettlement has set aside some $159 million in fiscal year 2002 for the resettlement of “refugees,” including those from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Somalia.

As of Aug. 27, 1,119 people have resettled this year from Afghanistan; one from Egypt; 446 from Iran; 216 from Iraq; three from Lebanon; 112 from Somalia; 381 from Sudan; and three from Syria.

“Of special concern [to Americans],” said the Worldviews survey, “is controlling and reducing illegal immigration, which 70 percent say should be a very important goal of U.S. foreign policy.”

Additionally, said Worldviews researchers, despite press reports of rising anti-Americanism overseas, “Europeans and Americans are in broad agreement when it comes to the war on terrorism, Iraq and a host of other international issues.”

Worldviews is a joint project between the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, both U.S.-based public-policy organizations.

Meanwhile, Project USA, an immigration-reform group, reports that since October 2001 – just a month after 9-11 – the U.S. has spent about $17 million per month on resettling an average 1,671 refugees from around the world.

“Part of that money is disbursed in the form of outright cash payments to individual refugees, at least 20 percent of whom are Muslims,” said an analysis issued by the group earlier this month.

“In other words,” said the analysis, “even though an overwhelming percentage of Americans think that there should be less Muslim immigration to the United States, the federal government and the refugee-resettlement industry are importing Islam at $10,000 per Muslim.”

The group says “the very first step in the war on terror is to end illegal immigration.”

“The lack of serious effort to secure U.S. borders and enforce immigration law undermines administration claims that concern for the safety and security of the American people is driving the looming war with Iraq,” said the analysis.

The Worldviews survey also said Americans’ attitudes about Islam have become more wary since 9-11.

“The proportion of the public calling Islamic fundamentalism a critical threat to vital U.S. interests has jumped 23 points to 61 percent, putting it in seventh position out of 20 threats ranked,” said the survey.

Additionally, “four out of 10 Americans say that the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon ‘represent the true teachings of Islam’ ‘to a great degree’ (21 percent) or ‘to some degree’ (18 percent).”

Despite new concerns about Muslims and Arabs, however, only slightly more than one in four Americans (27 percent) say they believe a “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West is inevitable.

Related story:

U.S. still resettling Afghan refugees here

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