President Obama has stated the United States will accept 10,000 refugees from Syria in the next year. Despite receiving massive pushback from governors from over half the states, the president is doing the right thing by calling for an open mind on accepting Syrian refugees into the country.
To put these refugees into perspective, over 12 million people have been displaced from Syria, with over 4.2 million registered Syrian refugees currently.
According to Worldvision.org, of those 4.2 million refugees, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have taken on a majority of the responsibility, taking in an estimated 3.6 million people between them, with several other countries also taking in thousands of people.
Now, recognizing that only registered refugees are likely to make it to the United States, the percentage of refugees proposed to come to the country amounts to a mere 0.002 percent of the registered refugees.
According to a recent article by CNN, 31 U.S. states have openly said Syrian refugees are not welcome in their state, 13 states have not committed to a stance and only six states are welcoming refugees openly.
Here in Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback stated “It is unfortunate that we must take this step to protect the safety of Kansans, but the federal government cannot guarantee that Syrian refugees coming to America would not be part of a terrorist organization seeking to harm our citizens.”
GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson has said bringing refugees here is a “suspension of intellect,” fellow candidate Donald Trump compared Syrian refugees to a “trojan horse,” and candidate Ted Cruz has suggested the country block Muslim refugees, but allow in Christian refugees, stating they pose “no meaningful risk” of terrorism.
While a potential security threat must be acknowledged, there are a few statistics worth considering when discussing accepting refugees into this country.
According to the U.S. state department, 2,234 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the United States since Oct. 1, 2010. None of them have been arrested or removed due to terrorism.
In addition, contrary to information that has been floating around the internet, 70 percent of the Syrian refugees coming to the United States are not young single adult men. In fact, single men unattached to families make up less than two percent of all Syrian refugee admissions. Last fiscal year, of the 1,682 refugees admitted, roughly 77 percent of them were women and children.
The vetting process is as follows: After being screened by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, all refugees must face the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of State, Department of Defense and Homeland Security prior to relocation. Fingerprints and biographical information are collected and each refugee is interviewed by U.S. officials. Syrian refugees are also subject to additional screening to determine where they came from and why they’ve left their home.
The entire process typically takes about two years before a refugee is allowed admission into the country.
One has to imagine that if a terrorist organization really has any power, they can find a quicker way to sneak into a country rather than biding their time for over two years masquerading as refugees.
Making us quiver in fear is only adding to a growing case of Islamophobia. GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has actually suggested a society where we monitor refugees, mosques and potentially even an entire religion. It’s preposterous and off-putting.
Lost is the fact that these refugees are people. People that have faced dire circumstances.The current death toll in Syria is north of 250,000 people so far, with 30,000 of those being children.
It’s incredibly easy to make this a battle of politics here in the United States. However, as we debate and play armchair quarterback, the harsh reality is that thousands of people are dying in Syria.
This is not a political issue—this is a human issue. Is there a potential safety risk? Absolutely. Is it plausible that anyone who truly is a terrorist representing Daesh can manage to find a way into this country without the need for a two-year journey posing as a refugee? Unfortunately, yes.
The key is that we need to come together as human beings in this situation and not just as Americans. As much as Daesh wants us to fear for our safety and draw a line between Western countries and Muslims, we must show courage and embrace the chance to help even the 0.002 percent we’re proposing to take in.
America prides itself on being a nation of immigrants, welcoming those in search of a better life. One of our symbols of our nation, the Statue of Liberty, states:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Now is the time to embrace those displaced from their homes and share liberty with those truly in need.