By Suchir Govindarajan
Before the end of his term as Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie told former President Barack Obama that the state would no longer accept any more refugees from Syria.
Christie’s reasoning was that these refugees will bring “unacceptable peril” to New Jersey and U.S. citizens. But the dangerous people that many Americans fear will sneak into the U.S. are the same people these refugees are fleeing from.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy plans to reverse Christie’s anti-immigration rhetoric by welcoming and protecting refugees, according to NJ.com. We as Americans, but more importantly as human beings, must side with Murphy — we have a moral obligation to help those in need. We need to align ourselves on the right side of history.
Innocent Syrian civilians are trapped in the conflict between the Islamic State and the sadistic Assad regime in Syria. Deprived of resources, shelter and separated from their families, these refugees are desperately trying to find a place to survive. Nations like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, along with Sweden, Germany, Serbia and Turkey have already taken in thousands of refugees, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Today, many turn to Germany, France, Italy and Greece. It is imperative that these nations do their parts to accept as many people as they can, but refugees are often met with huge opposition.
Camp conditions are often disgusting and unlivable. Refugee camps in Germany are unsanitary, with flooded bathrooms and scarce housing. In Jordan, refugees are placed indiscriminately amongst one another, creating conflicts between factions, according to The Independent.
Refugees are willing to face all of this strife for the chance to escape the horrors of the Assad regime and the oppression of the Islamic State. Those who have risked their lives and spent all their money to immigrate to the U.S. deserve safe passage.
According to NJ.com, New Jersey has accepted 275 Syrian refugees since 2007, which is a fantastic start. But we have still a long way to go. We must open our borders and welcome refugees that need our assistance.
To compensate for more open borders, extensive screening of those entering the U.S. would be a much more humane alternative.
We must not think of these refugees as groups, numbers or statistics — they are individuals. Each refugee is a mother, brother, friend or child.
Think of the thousands of children killed on the journey, including Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian boy whose image made global headlines after his lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach. Will New Jersey ignore a 5-year-old orphaned immigrant on the off-chance that he is accompanied by a terrorist? Does the prevention of a couple fanatics entering the country justify the deaths and suffering of thousands of Syrians? Their lives are just as important as those lost in Paris, London or New York. We are all humans, and humanity knows no ethnicity, race or religion.
The very foundation of our nation is based on our values promoting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If we are to defend our principles, we musn’t let fear triumph our American ideals.
By succumbing to fear, racism and anti-Islamism, we let extremists and terrorists control our strength as a nation. We cannot let ourselves fall to that level, which is why it is imperative that New Jersey, amongst other states, promptly open its borders to more Syrian refugees seeking shelter, medicine and hope for the future.
“If our country has more diversity, differing perspectives will lead to more productivity.”
“We are not letting in enough people who have no where else to go.”