The Debate about Syrian Refugees in the US: Why America Should Open its Borders

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Larry Hogan’s recent Facebook post stating his refusal to let Syrian refugees settle in Maryland until further notice

By: Nicolette Brookman

@NicoletteLB22 on Twitter

After the tragic events of the past week, more specifically the terrorist attacks in France, many have taken the stance that the United States should close its borders to Syrian refugees in order to prevent an attack of that nature on American soil. According to the MSNBC, 31 state governors have said that they will “oppose, refuse or suspend the resettlement of Syrian refugees” in their states.

Although many are skeptical that the state governors have any say in the matter since it is traditionally a power of the federal government that is handled by the State Department, this has not stopped American citizens from rallying behind the state governors.

Among the top arguments that can be seen on a variety of social media websites, two of the most popular are that Syrian refugees pose a threat to the safety of American citizens and that the United States should not accept any refugees until all American citizens, especially children and veterans, have homes. The reality is that American citizens can still be protected and provided for even if we offer shelter for people, including families, in need.

Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings eloquently introduced this argument on Tuesday when he tweeted, “Preserving the safety of Marylanders and providing refuge for Syrians fleeing violence aren’t mutually exclusive; we can and must do both” on Tuesday afternoon.

Huffington Post author David Bier wrote an article entitled, “Six Reasons to Welcome Syrian Refugees after Paris,” in which he argued that Americans should not reject Syrian refugees out of fear. His reasons are as follows: First, the Paris attackers were not refugees- the user of the fake passport had not received refugee status in any country. Second, according The Hill (the official blog of the US Congress), not one refugee out of the millions America has accepted has committed an act of terrorism in the US. Third, because the screening process for refugees is intense and takes two years, it is easier for potential terrorists to exploit student or tourist visas, which are easier to obtain. Fourth, ISIS views the refugees as traitors to the Islamic faith for running to “the lands of the infidel.” Fifth, by turning away Syrian refugees, we would be turning away allies against ISIS. Lastly, Bier asserts that the moral and just path is to treat the refugees with compassion and kindness.

In summary of Bier’s points, it has not been proven that the Syrian refugees will pose a threat to Americans. Thus, it would be wrong to deny them the aid and support that they desperately need based on blind allegations and unjust fear.

In addition, there is no reason that America cannot help both its citizens and refugees from other nations. It would be unfair to tell American citizens that they are more deserving of government efforts because they were born on American soil.

Syrian refugees are no doubt deserving and in need of our support. After four years, Syrians are turning toward European countries and the US. At first, refugees fled to nearby countries like Jordan and Egypt, but many of these countries, such as Lebanon, are not permitting refugees to work. After months or even years of not working in these neighboring countries, many cannot afford to pay rent in the homes or apartments they are staying in, and thus they are seeking a more permanent residence elsewhere.

America has always been a world leader. The best ways for America to set a good example in the refugee crisis would be to show compassion and to offer shelter to the refugees who are simply looking for a better life after fleeing their war-ravaged country. They turn to America because we have always been the land of opportunity, but denying admittance to Syrian refugees would make us seem elitist and callous, and it would go against our pledges to support people who need our help.

As you hear the arguments against welcoming Syrian refugees into America and offering them the support they need, keep in mind that the allegations against them are generalized and were created out of fear. Do not let yourself forget that these refugees are human beings – brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, spouses, children – that are trying to escape the perils of their own country and are looking to America to stand up and assist them in their time of need.


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