Tuesday, October 04, 2011
A recent Politico article reveals disappointing, but unsurprising news that Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has put an anonymous hold on legislation currently pending in the Senate which would release $36 million in funding for benefits that the US government has promised to provide to 5,600 disabled and elderly refugees currently living in the United States. Paul argues that this benefit program - the costs of which are offset by fee increases for immigrants seeking visas - has in the past and could in the future provide funding to terrorists seeking to do harm to the United States by entering this country under the pretense of refugee status.
Paul cites the fact that two "refugees" who resided in Kentucky, the state he represents, were recently arrested for domestic terrorism activities and that they had been receiving benefits provided through this program. His solution, however, is to deny this program's funding - funding that many legitimate refugees desperately need - rather than to pose practical ways of fixing the program's flaws. Furthermore, the funding itself (a mere $36 million) is minuscule compared to most Congressional appropriations, and the harm done by the hold on its release far outweighs any contribution it would make to this nation's deficit.
This is why Paul's behavior is disappointing, but understandable. He is seeking to maintain a political image of fiscal conservatism and concern for national security, but the reality and consequences of his actions will be nothing more than the escalated poverty of some 5,600 refugees.
There is a time and place for political and ideological battles (even legitimate ones regarding the size, scope, and role of government) to be waged, but this isn't one of them.