In the aftermath of the Russian passenger plane explosion in the Sinai Peninsula, the suicide bombings in Beirut and the horrific attacks in Paris, the subject of Syrian refugees has come into the forefront of American politics:
“I will absolutely take database on the people coming in from Syria.” -Donald Trump.
“President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America—it is nothing less than lunacy. On the other hand, Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them.” -Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
“I think our focus ought to be on the Christians who have no place in Syria anymore.” -Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
“The fact is, we shouldn’t be worried about any other folks in this situation without first worrying about the people of the United States of America and their security.” – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
“Given the tragic attacks in Paris and the threats we have already seen, Texas cannot participate in any program that will result in Syrian refugees – any one of whom could be connected to terrorism – being resettled in Texas.” -Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
“I want surveillance of certain mosques, okay?” -Donald Trump.
These fear mongering speeches and gross generalizations about all Syrians are despicable and should not be tolerated. ISIS has proved to be a major threat to the security of many people around the globe – but most significantly to those in Syria. Current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a tyrant, has done little to fight the terrorist organization on his own soil, leaving many innocent citizens in grave danger.
According to the United States State Department, over half of the Syrian refugees are under the age of 17. These young children, fearful of their life, are looking for a new start in the United States, a country that has welcomed millions of immigrants for over a hundred years. In 1979, the United States accepted and assimilated 111,000 Vietnamese refugees into American society, and one year later, the US added another 207,000.
The Statue of Liberty, a symbol of America’s abundant opportunities, freedom and openness to new immigrants, proclaims, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
She does not discriminate by religion. She allows all people looking for a new life into this great country. Why now do Syrian refugees who are fleeing from a murderous leader and an imminent threat to their safety not apply?
Between 2012 and 2015, the United States accepted 1,854 Syrian refugees while Germany accepted nearly a 100,000 with plans to increase that number to nearly 800,000. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted on a bill that would “pause” President Obama’s plans to accept 10,000 new Syrian refugees and would require that background checks be completed for all Iraqi and Syrian refugees to ensure they do not pose a threat to US national security. The bill passed with a “veto-proof” majority and only two House Republicans voted against the bill.
I am appalled by the reaction on the right to closing our borders to those in need.
We are a nation of immigrants, all of us. We come from all over the world, each bringing with us a diverse culture that has only enriched the American identity. To prohibit some cultures from this American amalgamation is xenophobic and just utterly paranoid.
It is only in these moments of crisis that we can show our true national character. With Donald Trump stealing national headlines, America appears to be backing away from its longstanding commitment to helping those in need.
Thankfully, other politicians disagree with the rhetoric of the right-wing. US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren spoke out against the new House bill, saying, “We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers because some politician dislikes their religion.”
Even former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright defended the Syrian refugees and critiqued the fear mongering of Republican candidates, stating “these calls are motivated by fear, not facts, and they fly in the face of our country’s proud tradition of admitting refugees from every corner of the globe.”
Syrian refugees need a safe place to escape the horrors of their home country. They do not want to leave Syria but are forced to by the grim conditions in their communities. We must open up our doors to show the world that we are still a beacon of hope for those searching for a better way of life.
We first fled from religious persecution to the new world, and now in the wake of this global terrorism, we must allow others to to do the same.