This article was one of the submissions for The Signal’s Fall 2016 opinion writing contest.
By Julia Marnin
The United States has made the controversial decision to admit 8,000 Syrian refugees into the country this year, Reuters reported. Amidst the protests from the American people, this decision is, without a doubt, the right one. The Syrian refugee crisis may be the most urgent humanitarian issue of our time and those people deserve to seek asylum in America, despite many U.S. citizens’ strong opposition.
The country of Syria has been in turmoil under the reign of its president, Bashar al-Assad. Protests made against Assad during the Arab Spring were met with deadly force from the Syrian government. In March 2011, Syria erupted into a nasty civil war. Following the outbreak of the war, an estimated 11 million Syrian refugees fled their home and 386,000 people have ended up dead as a result of the fighting — and of the 386,000 slain, 14,000 were innocent children, according to World Vision.
Amnesty International, among dozens of media outlets, has accused the Syrian government of committing a multitude of human rights violations. Included in these crimes are chemical weapons, terror shootings and bombardments against citizens. Most recently, the Syrian government used chlorine gas attacks on the city of Aleppo, according to BBC. The rebel armies in Syria have also abused human rights by attacking civilians and recruiting child soldiers.
The chaos in Syria has made the country uninhabitable for its citizens. Currently, Amnesty International estimates that 13.5 million people within Syria require humanitarian aid. Many refugees have escaped to neighboring countries, but even more are awaiting their getaway.
Now, there are too many Syrian refugees with nowhere to go. The European Union promised to take in 160,000 refugees, but is currently only accepting 6,000 of them, according to The Guardian. This is why the United State’s decision to admit refugees into the country is major one. The U.S. is accepting 8,000 of the 10,000 refugees promised sanctuary on its soil. In doing so, America is providing more safety to refugees than the entire European Union.
America’s decision to accept the refugees has received much backlash from its citizens. Many criticisms include the fear of compromising our national security for the refugees. People are worried that ISIS terrorists impersonating refugees may come into the country. Some worry that American culture is in jeopardy if these outsiders are allowed into the nation.
Despite the oppositions of America’s decision, this human rights crisis outweighs all of the criticisms. The Department of Homeland Security concluded that accepting refugees is the right thing to do. The U.S. is a country based on the foundation of immigrants. Syrian refugees, like all people, had no say in the country in which they were born. They have the right to leave a poisonous environment and move elsewhere to protect their lives.
Hindsight shows the last time America denied refugees trying to enter the country was a huge mistake. The U.S. government turned away thousands of Jewish refugees when anti-Semitism spread throughout Europe. The fates of those shunned refugees were often gruesome under Nazi-occupied Europe. This is why Syrian refugees deserve a better chance at life in America. By accepting 8,000 refugees, the U.S. could spare many lives from a violent end.
The fear of allowing terrorists to enter the country by accepting the refugees is a rational one, especially after recent attacks in Paris, France, and in other countries. However, American citizens must realize that Syrian refugees harbor the same fear as Americans. They, too, are trying to escape terror attacks.
The Syrian refugees are people, just like us. They are mothers, daughters, fathers and sons. They are sisters and brothers. Some of them now have been made into widows and orphans. Their fates are being held in the world’s hands. People must forget that we are separated by countries and instead, remember that we are all unified by the human race. The United States is right in recognizing that these Syrian refugees matter.