Monthly Archives: March 2018

Euro Refugees: Separating Human Interest from Economic Interest

One of the causes of the rise of the alt-right in western Europe may be the equivocating of economics and compassion when it comes to deciding to whom to grant political asylum. To quote one European politician, “Save the people who need saving. But don’t tell me they’re good for the labor market.”  80% of refugees in Germany are jobless, and the conservatives there have noticed. However, the human rights angle can be successful if truthful–is the applicant truly in danger, and is the government clear on why that matters to a free society?

This longform article from The Atlantic focuses on Germany’s handling of refugees since 2015, especially those from Africa and the Middle East.  While it also addresses the roots of xenophobia, as well as the German processes that could be emulated in the US, its most interesting content describes how economic opportunists are weeded out from the applicant pool, so as not to take the the spot of someone truly needy.

To get a sense of these (refugee applicant) interviews, imagine the following game. You meet someone who claims to be from your hometown, and you have to decide whether he’s telling the truth. You can ask him anything you like: Which high school did you attend? What color is city hall? Do people get around on buses or trains? Is there a McDonald’s? If so, where? The other player may prepare however he wishes, memorizing facts, maps, events. If he convinces you, he gets a million dollars. If he doesn’t convince you, he dies. You have 10 minutes to decide.

Germany also has fascinating uses of technology to verify these narratives–not just passports but mobile phone history, facial recognition, and speech patterns.

What do you think?  How rigorous should a country be in weeding out the criminal or the merely poor, from the displaced and the destitute?

A Principled Stand…Or A Betrayal?

As tweeted by us earlier this week, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho publicly recommitted to his Miami role during an emergency school board session, just one day after privately committing to move to NYC for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top educational post.  NYC’s pursuit of him had been well-known, but at this point the public did not believe he had made his decision.  However, Carvalho had personally accepted the job with de Blasio the night before, and agreed to make the NYC announcement public.

The superintendent’s change of heart was allegedly due to appeals by students, especially undocumented immigrants who feared the loss of his protection.

Digging into South Florida and turning down the superintendent role of the largest school system in the nation only stoked rumors of a future run for political office by Carvalho– perhaps for the congressional seat that is soon to be vacated by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

Was the dramatic switch heartfelt, or an unseemly reach for attention and power?

MC thinks the latter. Would you want to hire someone who was okay publicly rejecting you, when a more delicate, private hand-off could have easily satisfied all parties?  Would you respect someone who put spectacle over integrity behind closed doors?

Or, perhaps there was no good way to handle turning down the job. And it was important to regain the faith of Miamians with a public commitment to staying.

What do you think?