Watching the news this week, I knew I had to drop everything and talk to you guys about the Syrian refugee crisis. I’ve seen strong opinions online and heard some pretty significant rhetoric come out of politicians and political candidates
Let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…). Remember the “Arab Spring” of 2011, when people took to the streets in some Middle East/Northern African countries to protest the regimes that were ruling their countries? Syria was one of the countries; people protested the Assad regime. The regime responded harshly, and it turned into a civil war. War brings death to more than soldiers and destruction to more than battlefields. Millions of Syrian families found themselves homeless and in constant danger, and they began to walk to the country’s borders in search of security in neighboring nations.
Thousands have made the dangerous and desperate decision to cross the Mediterranean to get to Greece. Boats capsizing on that journey have provided some of the saddest pictures of the situation as drowned bodies, including those of young children, wash up on the beach. I’ve promised you no guilt and sad pictures, so that’s all I’m going to say. (You can find the pictures easily enough if you haven’t seen them and want to.)
So that’s the background. It has been four years now and the situation in Syria is no closer to a peaceful resolution. Death and destruction are mounting. People are desperate and running for their lives.
I think we’re hearing about this more now because there is an election coming up, and because of the Paris terror attacks. Many Americans are afraid for our safety, and fear that radical elements will slip into the United States by posing as refugees. Opponents of the refugees coming to America say that American poverty, homelessness, and mental healthcare should take priority over foreigners in need.
On one hand, all of this makes sense. As much as my heart breaks for the refugees, events like the Paris terror attacks makes us fear for our safety, and there are plenty of Americans who need government aid to survive or get back on their feet. But on the other hand, where are these Syrian refugees supposed to go?
We Americans have so much, and we waste so much. If we got real about our spending and consumption we could provide for our own here in America, including our veterans, the mentally ill, the physically disabled, people displaced by emergencies, and others. We can take care of our own, we just have to get our eyes off ourselves, and let’s face it, many of the people who argue against the refugees because of Americans in need are also the people who don’t want to see money spent on Americans in need.
And as to our national security, we need to understand that refugees and those seeking political asylum are different. Asylees can come to the United States and, if proven safe and truly in need of asylum, they are fast-tracked to permanent residency. The refugee setup is different. Refugees are not in the United States until they are vetted, a process that can take up to three years.
The American immigration system has an annual maximum number of refugees that are allowed in every year. That number is fixed with the fiscal year and cannot be changed until the next cycle. That number was 80,000 per year until the economy went downhill. Then the number was lowered to 75,000, and then 70,000. Now President Obama is suggesting that we should increase the number to 85,000 per year. This has caused an uproar among people who fear for our safety and/or resources.
Many governors have declared that they will not accept more refugees into their state, but that’s not how immigration works. Immigration is handled at the federal level, and once accepted, the refugees are as free to move about the country as anyone is.
So there will be no sudden influx of refugees; the government will only accept the fixed maximum. And they will not be random unvetted people; all refugees will have to go through the background check process before they can set foot in this country.
For many of us, the ultimate question is what the Bible says about our responsibility to people in need. I’ve covered this in another post.
This refugee crisis has been a divisive issue on social media and website comment pages. People have strong, passionate opinions. Both sides want what’s best for America; they just have different ideas about what that is. We must continue to consider all the sides of this issue and be wise and responsible with our nation as well as the equally valuable lives of the Syrians.
I used a number of sources to compile this information:
World Vision: http://www.worldvision.org/our-impact/syrian-refugees?campaign=10680859
Bearing Drift: http://bearingdrift.com/2015/11/18/myths-vs-facts-in-the-syrian-refugee-issue/
Let’s talk! Leave your thoughts in the comments, but please remain civil. Anyone attacking other commenters personally or spouting unsupported venom will be removed.