Refugees, America, and Politics
Thanks for taking the time to look at my very first blog post, I know there are plenty of other Facebook articles you could be scrolling through and reading, so thanks! Feel free to leave any comments or questions, I would love to further discuss the Syrian refugee crisis and explore the opinions of others.
In May of 2016, I was given the opportunity to live in Greece with an awesome group of classmates from school. Throughout my time in the Mediterranean country, I was able to visit old monasteries, swim in the Aegean Sea, and eat lots and lots of Gyros—a Greek delicacy so to speak. However, one event radically rocked my world during my visit. Exploring a Syrian Refugee camp. During my time there, I was able to play soccer with the children, fix broken mosquito netting, and observe the lifestyle of those in the refugee population. Yet, the most powerful part of this experience was listening to the horrific stories many had to tell.
The story that one of my classmates heard, and by far the most impacting to me, was that of an older man. This man had seen and been in the unthinkable. ISIS had come through his village and beheaded hundreds of innocent children because a girl did not have her head covering on. And while the movies make decapitation look easy, it is not. It is a slow and gruesome process. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon in Syria. With the constant conflict between ISIS, the Syrian government, and the rebels, no Syrian is safe.
With that background information being said, I decided to write my first blog on our country’s current viewpoints and involvement with the Syrian refugee crisis. In America, political parties tend to be polarized when it comes to the refugee crisis. I believe this polarization displays more than political differences. It shows the hearts and fears of those in America. So lets take a look at a few very simplified viewpoints of the crisis.
One opinion that resonates with a lot of Americans is that terrorist are scheming to blend in with refugees and attack our country. Ironically, since 1980 there have been zero attacks on U.S soil by a terrorist posing as a refugee. None, zero, zilch. In fact, most attacks on U.S soil are domestic. Does that mean it will never happen? I can’t say. Is posing as a refugee a good way to sneak into the U.S? No. Anyone who has worked with the refugee population would immediately understand why terrorist would choose not to go through the refugees to enter the United States. In fact, 51 percent of the worlds refugee population are children and a majority of the Syrian refugees are women and children. Refugee’s are going through hell. Not only does it take a considerable amount of time to enter the United States, many are separated from their families; the only thing most of these people have left. It is not an effective way to enter the U.S. and refugees go through considerable inspection before entering.
A second common opinion is to let anyone and everyone enter the country upon request. Another controversial thought. Germany has welcomed over 1 million refugees, a staggering amount. And while there are some regulations with the amount of refugees Germany is letting in, many German officials have stated that they have lost control. Today, German politicians are seeking ways to share the load of refugees in and outside of Germany. Greece is another country that has had a similar experience to that of Germany, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Because of Greece’s geographic location, some asylum seekers are paying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to enter Greece illegally, while others are legally accepted. Unfortunately, Greece’s economic crisis has hindered it’s ability to help many of these refugees. Countries like Germany and Greece have faced several consequences for having hundreds of thousands of immigrants enter in a short period of time. However, it is important to clarify that this method has Syrian refugees safe and out of the civil war that has caused endless pain for the citizens of Syria.
The final opinion I am going to discuss is the most middle-grounded. The desire to, under thorough regulations, welcome a set amount of refugees each year or month. Not only is this the most neutral idea, but it is the most common among countries who are able to help. Historically, this is what the United States has done in the past when welcoming refugees from around the world. Different Democratic and Republican presidents have been advocates for welcoming refugee into the country. During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, more than 600,000 refugees entered the United States. Likewise, President Barrack Obama has attempted to allow more refugees into the country throughout his presidency, faced with strong opposition.
Additionally, since the Syrian Refugee Crisis started, most federal action has been dismantled. Unfortunately, the United States has had a strong history of denying entry of refugees. According to Pew Research Center, in 1938-1939, 60 percent of Americans opposed refugees entering the country from Nazi Germany. In 1955, America followed a similar path and 55 percent of Americans opposed admitting refugees from communist-ruled Hungary. Years later, 62 percent opposed letting in refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Millions of these refugees were killed. A large portion of which could have been saved. Today, over 450,000 Syrians are dead due to the conflict in Syria.
The lives of millions of people are in the hands of those capable of extending a helping hand. With over 4 million Refugees seeking a place to call home, political affiliation needs to be set aside and love needs to abound. In 2015, America welcomed a measly 1,700 refugees into the country. The following year, 13,000 were admitted into the United States. If change does not take place soon, history will repeat itself and thousands of humans will perish while millions of Americans continue on with their lives—oblivious to the atrocities that could have been prevented.
Want to help Syrian refugees, but don’t know where to start? Here are a few websites that offer realistic ways to help those in the refugee population. If you want a more specific and hands on way to help, send me a message and I would be more than happy to help!
This is a blog with several methods of donating money to help refugees in need: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syria-donate-how-to-help-charities_us_5852ade3e4b02edd4115f85a