Hard Questions About Asylum and Afghanistan

Ilya Somin
Show Date
August 22, 2021
George Mason University

Guest: Ilya Somin


The sudden but not entirely unpredictable collapse of the American-trained forces in Afghanistan has woken much of the country up to the futility of our "forever wars" in the Middle East. Beyond the waste of a trillion dollars and countless lives over twenty years (for what?), we are now left with yet another humanitarian refugee crisis. Many European countries seem to have had their fill of refugees, and the Biden administration has yet to follow through on its promises to expedite asylum for the most desperate Afghans, who are now facing brutal persecution at the hands of the Taliban.

Most people agree that those who assisted the U.S. effort and thus find a target on their heads should be given priority for asylum status. But what about those who are seeking asylum from forced labor under terrorist groups like the Taliban or, in other countries, ISIS? In a recent USA Today article, GMU legal scholar Ilya Somin directs our attention to a bizarrely cruel ruling by the Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals in 2018 classifies such slave laborers as ineligible for asylum because their forced labor qualifies as "material support" for terrorism.

Somin joined me to explain how such legal gymnastics were ever justified in the first place, and what the current Attorney General can do about it. We also considered the arguments for and against letting in larger numbers of refugees from Afghanistan and other countries.