The Chief

Point: Let Syrian refugees seek shelter within our borders

Syrian people are losing their lives daily due to the turmoil occurring in their country.

Syrian people are losing their lives daily due to the turmoil occurring in their country.

Carolyn Cole // MCT Campus

Carolyn Cole // MCT Campus

Syrian people are losing their lives daily due to the turmoil occurring in their country.

Dave Marques, Copy Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

There is a troubling hypocrisy in America’s reaction to the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War. We profess our horror and revulsion as images of bombed-out buildings and bloodied civilians assail our eyes daily, yet far too many of us cut our sympathy short when those same victims seek refuge in our own country. We look back upon American apathy towards other crimes against humanity such as the Holocaust and struggle to comprehend our refusal to save those desperately seeking survival in the past. Why should we repeat the same fatal mistake today?

The main source of anti-refugee sentiment is fear of jihadist terrorism, a legitimate concern in the wake of the attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, and Beirut. It is true that we must remain vigilant as the threat from terrorism remains high, though the Syrian refugees ultimately do not pose a major security threat to the United States.

For one, the screening process for Syrians seeking asylum in the U.S. is extremely exhaustive. The United Nations must first decide who merits refugee status, and upon referral to the United States, a refugee candidate undergoes a rigorous background check conducted by Homeland Security officers and experts in Syrian and Iraqi refugee cases.

Syrians must then go through an additional round of background checks called the Syrian Enhanced Review Process, which takes advantage of the security procedures set in place following the Iraq War. As a result, Syrian refugee applications can take over two years to process, ensuring that those who relocate in the U.S. do not have criminal backgrounds or connections to radical Islamist groups.

Furthermore, only 2% of accepted Syrian refugees are men of combat age, and most of these men are only seeking to avoid being drafted into Bashar al-Assad’s army, which has used chemical weapons and random bombings against their fellow civilians. According to U.S. government data, over 50% of the Syrian refugees currently residing in the United States are children, the most defenseless against the destruction.

While there is little risk in admitting refugees under the strict system currently in place, refusing them plays into ISIS’ narrative of an inevitable “clash of civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world.

ISIS claims to have established a “caliphate” (Islamic state ruled by the successor to the prophet Muhammad) that serves as a place of refuge for the world’s Muslims, and the group claims that Muslims who leave its domains will be persecuted and forcibly converted. Those who flee the brutality and barbarism of ISIS’ mythological caliphate directly undermine its self-proclaimed authority over the Muslim world. What kind of paradise cannot keep its citizens from taking up the arduous trek across the Mediterranean into Europe, fearing for their lives?

A United States hostile to Syrian refugees gives ISIS two victories. The first: it gives the Syrians opposed to extremism little choice but to return to their war-torn homeland, where they will once again be subjects of ISIS’ “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The second, and perhaps the more dangerous: it fuels ISIS propaganda encouraging Muslims to leave persecution in their home countries for glory in Syrian jihad. This appears to be working in Europe, as certain members of France and Belgium’s socially isolated Muslim populations have gone to train in Syria, believing that they will forever remain pariahs in the West. U.S. acceptance of the Syrian refugees would not only help undermine ISIS’ claim to Islamic authority, but would also render its most effective recruitment tool useless.

Finally, and most importantly, while debating the refugee crisis we must remember that the horrors facing the people of Syria are not figments of a twisted imagination. Over 200,000 people have been killed in the four-year civil war, according to the New York Times, and its atrocities have destroyed families and left survivors in constant fear of death.

The Syrian refugees are not “rabid dogs” or wild fanatics who cheer on the destruction of the Twin Towers; they are real people who have been subjected to obscene violations of human rights.

On the Statue of Liberty, perhaps the most iconic symbol of American values, a poem by Emma Lazarus reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Today, as the tired and poor of Syria yearn to breathe free, we must honestly listen closely to this exhortation; it is our duty as Americans.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes
Navigate Right
Navigate Left
Massapequa High School's chief source of news.
Point: Let Syrian refugees seek shelter within our borders