Should the United States accept Syrian refugees?

Anders Russell

U.S. owes refugees chance for new life

Anders Russell

The involvement of the United States in the Syrian Civil War has resulted in increased instability and more intense conflict in the country. In fact, the United States has been supporting radical Islamic regimes since the Cold War. Because we have contributed to this instability, it is our responsibility to help the people of Syria escape it.

The United States began funding radical Islamic regimes to combat the Soviet Union’s expansion into the Middle East. The widely-held belief at the time was “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” and the United States used rebel regimes as a weapon against communism. As early as the 1970s, the CIA funded the Muslim Brotherhood (an Islamic political group which Egypt considers a terrorist organization) to stop the Soviet Union from expanding into Egypt. Even al-Qaida’s formation was a direct result of CIA training and funding. The CIA’s justification for funding this organization was to defeat Russian forces in Afghanistan.

Although it is important to note how the United States has caused instability in the Middle East, it is also necessary to understand what attracts people to join Islamic terrorist organizations.

Terrorist organizations tend to claim that their actions are justified by selectively following the Quran and interpreting passages to match their regime’s agenda. However, the true motivation behind a majority of attacks is the Middle East’s poor economic condition and the alienation that many Muslims feel among western countries.

The Islamic State’s goal is to create a war between all “believers” (Muslims) and “non-believers” (anyone else), and refusing to accept Syrian refugees aids ISIL’s aim to separate Muslims from the western world. The rejection of Syrian refugees is largely based on the false assumption that Middle Eastern refugees are likely to be terrorists. In reality, of the 750,000 refugees admitted to America since 9/11, only two people have been arrested on terrorist charges (sending aid to al-Qaida). The unfortunate fact that our politicians must face is that terrorists will enter the United States one way or another, and refusing to allow refugees to enter our country legally will only increase the threat of terrorism and the sense of isolation that causes anti-American sentiment in the first place.

The United States faced a similar immigration issue in World War II — instead of accepting persecuted Jews from Germany, we placed strict quotas on German immigration. German laws enacted in 1935 removed citizenship from Jews, but the United States still only accepted 7,000 German refugees in 1936. At this time, 82 percent of Americans opposed accepting large numbers of Jewish refugees. American immigration restrictions were seen as a major reason for Jews not being able to escape German oppression.

From a modern perspective, it is easy to see that the United States handled immigration during the beginning of World War II very poorly. Today, we are making the same mistakes. Since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the United States has only admitted about 1,800 Syrian refugees. On the other hand, Canada has accepted 36,300 people and Germany has admitted 38,500 Syrian refugees.

Even in Georgia, we can witness the ignorant, fear-mongering tactics used by our politicians in order to deny the settlement of Syrian refugees. In a letter to President Barack Obama, Gov. Nathan Deal said, “A halt in refugee admissions and critical review of the screening process will help ensure the safety of Georgians and Americans.” This misguided belief that Syrian refugees endanger the American population is a belief widely held by conservative politicians. Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush is an advocate for religious screenings and insists that the United States should give preference to Christian refugees.

Bringing religion into the Syrian refugee conflict is dangerous and only increases anti-American sentiments throughout radical Islamic regimes. It is time for the United States to accept and welcome those escaping persecution and conflict.

Refugees bring unacceptable risk to U.S.

John Slovensky

“To insure domestic Tranquility, [and] provide for the common defense” are two of the most important functions of government as outlined in the United States Constitution. To uphold its duty to the citizens of America, our government must not allow Syrian refugees to enter this country and potentially cause grave harm. The majority of Syrian refugees wish no harm to the United States of America; however, the consequences of even a few terrorists entering the United States disguised as refugees would be catastrophic. Simply put, the United States government must act to ensure a Parisian-like tragedy does not befall the United States.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant regularly threatens to attack America and other Western countries and first realized these threats in the Paris attacks. Shortly after the events occurred, ISIL released a video taking credit for the attacks and promising even worse ones for New York City. As a country, we cannot take these threats lightly. By taking in large numbers of refugees, we essentially give ISIL a clear path to send operatives into the United States. The thought of terrorists disguised as refugees carrying out attacks is not abstract. At least one of the attackers in the Paris terrorist attacks was confirmed to have entered Europe in a group of Syrian refugees at the Greek border. With this precedent already in place, it is realistic to say that ISIL will try that same strategy again.

Proponents of taking in refugees from Syria claim that we will be able to screen the refugees entering our country and ensure that every terrorist is rejected. Our screening system, however, can not possibly be complex enough to catch all terrorists because of the lack of ability to verify records and documentation. Terrorists are simply too clever.

“If someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but nothing will show up because we have no record of them,” FBI Director James Comey said in a Congressional hearing.

The United States has no access to Syrian government databases, so America does not have the means to verify any papers refugees might have, if they have any documentation at all. Furthermore, the large amount of refugees that America plans to receive will leave the already questionable screening procedures even more ineffective. The 10,000 refugees America is slated to take in 2016 is over five times the number of refugees the United States has received over the last five years. The increase is so large and the screening so inadequate, that over half of U.S. governors have rejected the idea of adopting more refugees given our current procedures. These states range from deep blue Massachusetts to dark red Mississippi.

While the federal government can force states to accept refugees, the political opposition of doing so is significant. According to polling by Bloomberg Politics, a majority of Americans do not support accepting Syrian refugees. Furthermore, only around a quarter support our country’s current plan to bring in 10,000 refugees.

The United States can easily help refugees in ways that do not involve compromising national security. The conditions in current refugee camps are poor. Camps suffer from a serious shortfall in funding, especially in low-income countries like Jordan. The World Food Program was forced to cut food aid to more than 200,000 refugees in Jordan due to a huge shortfall in funding. America can give much-needed money to the refugee camps in poor countries surrounding Syria and help hundreds of thousands of refugees while not risking the American people.

America can and should help those who have been displaced by the Syrian war. Allowing large numbers of refugees into the United States when they cannot be properly screened is not a viable option when ISIL has said it intends to attack the United States and already has attacked France using terrorists disguised as refugees.




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