OPINION: Refugees are not the enemy
Jonathan McCollough | Staff Writer
Following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, 31 governors have announced that they oppose the Obama Administration’s plan to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees.
The size and scale of the Syrian refugee crisis is truly staggering. Over 11 million men, women, and children have been forced out of their homes, signaling one of the worst refugee crises since World War II.
European nations are being slammed with refugees as millions flood north to escape persecution, and the European Union has requested that each nation take in at least 160,000 to spread the load on the countries. The United States, however, has remained mostly out of the picture, having taken in only about 2,100 refugees over the course of the entire crisis.
This is not enough, especially as our European allies continue to take in more and more refugees.
Germany has planned to take in over 800,000 by the end of 2015 and is likely to meet this number. Despite concerns raised by some in France following the attacks in Paris, its president has pledged to increase the number of refugees that they would take in from 24,000 to 30,000, calling it a “humanitarian duty” to help the refugees.
The 10,000 refugees that Obama has pledged to take in pales in comparison, especially considering the size of the United States compared to many European countries. Letting 10,000 refugees into the U.S. is the equivalent of letting an extra two fans in to a sold-out Paul Brown Stadium.
But for many of the 31 governors – as well as millions of Americans who are opposed to letting in refugees – the real concern is security.
It’s understandable that people would fear refugees, especially following the gruesome attacks in Paris. That fear, however, is mostly unwarranted.
As of now, none of the Paris attackers have been linked to the refugee crisis, and the only possible link, a Syrian passport found in the pocket of a suicide bomber, was found by French investigators to be fake and likely planted to install fear of refugees. In fact, all known assailants in the Paris attacks are known to be citizens of European Union countries. But nonetheless, there still is a potential risk of letting in thousands of refugees into our country, right?
According to The Guardian, “Each candidate is vetted first by the UN’s refugee agency, and then separately by officials from the State Department, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department. The process takes between 18 months and two years.”
The U.S. State Department has called refugees, “the most heavily vetted group of people currently allowed into the U.S.,” and they’re right. There is no other legal process of getting into the U.S. that is as rigorous and difficult than the process for letting in refugees.
The United States should join the rest of the EU, and 10,000 people is a very reasonable number with which to start.
We can not sit back and watch as people continue to die, and the Middle East continues to implode in on itself.