In light of Paris, Americans to decide on refugees

Published: November 20, 2015

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia commons ASSISTANT SECRETARY of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne Richard interacts with Syrian refugees in Jordan.

PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / ASSISTANT SECRETARY of State for Population, Refugees and Migration Anne Richard interacts with Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Commentary by
KELLY ROSS

Arguably one of the biggest decisions for President Barack Obama and Congress has further pushed America and governors of states into opposing immigration views. Should America shelter Syrian refugees or not? Although the controversial topic has already been on the radar for media outlets, the recent Paris terrorist attacks have increased both media coverage and most of Americans’ fears. What type of risks would we run into by letting Syrian refugees into our country, and should we just accept these risks due to the inhumanity displayed in the Middle East?

The solution, however, is not a simple yes or no. There are millions of refugees struggling every day to find a new place for their families to settle, where their human rights, their livelihoods and their lives are not stripped from them. Today, the estimation of struggling Syrian refugees is at four million—half of them children. How can one argue that keeping Syrian children out of our country is protecting our own citizens from the danger the refugees “pose?” The battles those innocent children would face on their home front are not only traumatic and disgusting, but also traumatizing and could disable children’s abilities to conduct themselves in the future. Viewing aspects of war and horrific atrocities at such young ages could hinder their ability to grow and develop as normally as possible. Giving up education to travel to other countries, lacking an adequate amount of food and decreasing their immune systems’ abilities are all factors these children face. There is just one problem. Sure, innocent children make up a large amount of the refugees, but what about the other half?

This is where the problem arises. If Congress agrees, America would allow at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to settle within our borders. Still, many states are opposing Syrian refugees entering their borders at all. The fear is that among those refugees could be radicals who have been trained by the Islamic State, ISIS, and could have the same prospects as the attackers in Paris, except on American soil. When the attacks in Paris were initially investigated, it was discovered that one of the attackers was a French citizen who had traveled to Syria for training and returned for his revenge. Because of him, many people argued that we should fear Americans returning from Syria, not the Syrian refugees. Recently, however, a Syrian passport was found belonging to one of the suicide bombers at the soccer stadium in Paris. This heightens the fears many Americans have, that a Syrian radical, or more than one, could enter the borders of our country. Although President Obama argues that background checks on the refugees would insure that this does not occur, many governors fear the security is not adequate enough. Oftentimes, those who are influenced by the radicals to join the Islamic State mission are children. If our security fails and radicals are accidentally allowed into America, even more radicals could result from their influence on thousands of Syrian children within our borders.

The issue doesn’t just stop there. In September, a video went viral of a Syrian immigrant harassing a girl in the Netherlands who he thought to be wearing inappropriate clothing. The girl, who was wearing a sleeveless shirt and jeans, was then beaten up by the boy and his friend. Disrespect such as this further heightens Americans’ fears. Many Syrians’ values for freedom and women’s rights differ from the democratic values held in America. If the refugees cannot peacefully accept and coexist with America’s society and culture, they should not be protected under our tax-paying dollars and national security—especially when the money spent on funding their settlement could be spent on the improvement of the poverty already experienced in America.

Although there is no strictly correct answer, there are some that are better than others. Time will tell the fate for the Syrians, America’s acceptance, and the outcome of the government’s decision.

Contact the writer: kelly.ross@scranton.edu

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