Friday, October 22, 2021     Volume: 22, Issue: 34

Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on December 15th, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 16, Issue 39

To protect the U.S., vet refugees


I appreciate your asking to hear from me regarding the invasion of “Syrian refugees.” As a legal immigrant from Finland and being from a family whose members have been refugees, I have a personal perspective on the issue.

First of all, you should note that Obama laid out a template for handling refugees back in 2011 by signing an order to stop processing refugee requests from Iraq for six months. This resulted from an investigation by the FBI, which uncovered evidence that several dozen Iraqi terrorists had infiltrated the United States two years earlier. But now Obama claims that to deny admission to refugees even though they harbor terrorists among them doesn’t reflect true American values. How un-American was his order in 2011? Obama’s abject hypocrisy stinks.

The basic principle we must follow is that we need to know who is coming here. There is no database of these Syrian refugees, if they are even from Syria to begin with. We have no information on them and therefore we cannot vet them appropriately. The FBI even admits that it can’t determine who these refugees are, what their background is, or how many terrorists are among them. Consequently, we must first secure our nation against the very real of threat of terrorists being embedded among the refugees. 

The investigation following the Paris murders confirmed that at least one of the attackers had entered Europe as a refugee with a Syrian passport. This in itself indicates a very real risk. Once refugees enter Europe, they can travel to the U.S. merely with a passport, without a visa. It would be lunacy on our part to grant refugees, or anyone else, entry into the U.S. if we cannot confirm their background.

Russia attacked Finland in 1939, and neighboring Sweden took in thousands of young children from Finland. Of course, there were complete records on all children and their families. Also, nobody in Finland had ever planned to bomb the future host country of Sweden or to behead its citizens if they would not convert to protestant Christianity.

My three older siblings were taken in by three separate Swedish families. 

The languages are completely different, so the children had to learn a new language and different customs. Some of the young children, including my sister, forgot their mother tongue, did not know their parents anymore, and had another adjustment when they returned to Finland. The separation was difficult for the Finnish families and ended up being difficult for the host families as well when the children were repatriated. But this refugee arrangement was understood to be temporary until the end of the war, about five years later.

Sweden just announced that it was closing its borders to refugees. Norway started to identify the people crossing its borders. Germany is realizing that it’s being overwhelmed by them. And interestingly, refugees in Finland are refusing its food, and some are leaving. Those in Hungary were throwing food containers to the street and refusing to eat it. Refugees, opportunists, or conquerors? 

On the other hand, my wife and I took in a refugee family with three children from Africa. They had to flee with literally only five suitcases and left everything else behind. They stayed with us for almost two years after which they were granted permanent residency status. They are now U.S. citizens. One of the parents is a college professor and the other one a high school mathematics teacher. The children are attending college. We are pleased for them. But there was information on them, they were vetted, and they came here legally as refugees.

Earlier, we also rescued another young man from Africa who had been brought here supposedly to continue his education at a college, only to find himself as an enslaved domestic house boy here on the Central Coast. He had no freedom because of the threats of his master. After verifying his background, we took him into our home and supported him through college.

In Europe, the vast majority, about 68 percent, of the refugees are young men between 18 and 40. They are of military age and should stay in Syria to fight the radical Muslims and to build their country. How many of them are terrorists? 

Their civic upbringing has taught them to not respect women by allowing women’s testimony to be worth only half of that of men. Their political ideology does not recognize democracy. Their government structure does not include separation of powers into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Their religious belief demands submission only to Islam and rejects separation of ecclesiastical from civil powers. And their legal and social systems are wrapped up in Shariah law, every part of which is fundamentally in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. 

No, our sense of sanity and desire to protect America mandates us to deny entry to those who cannot be vetted as well as those whose goal it is to murder our citizens and to destroy our country of liberty.

Matt Kokkonen, a legal immigrant from Finland, lives in San Luis Obispo, is a graduate of Westmont College and did graduate studies in philosophy in Finland. He has been a financial planner on the Central Coast for 40 years. Kokkonen was the Republican candidate for Congress in 2008.

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