Updated: Sep 28, 2020
By Julia Loritz
Banksy’s macabre depiction of the E.U. flag, with stars instead displayed as migrant bodies floating on an ocean.
Society has presented this generation with more people living as refugees since World War II... Unlike an immigrant, a refugee is an asylum seeker who must resort to wandering the globe, displaced from their homes under siege. In places like Syria, Afghanistan, and Southern Sudan, crises like famine, natural disasters, and wars destroy communities and lives daily. Listening to refugees’ stories confirms this. They apprise the constant risk of being killed, raped, or enslaved no matter who they are–boy, girl, young, or old.
Though many throughout the modern world are oblivious to their struggle, Franklin Roosevelt once said, “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries is in danger.” Those who are far away, even those who remain ignorant of the refugee crisis, see the effects which demand international attention. Being what America is as a country–fortunate, free, and boastful of a surplus of material resources–it should not hesitate to advocate for humanity and lend a helping hand to those who cannot help themselves. Despite the deceitful generalizations assigned to them in the media, refugees possess the intent to make the most out of their inherited circumstances, perhaps by supporting family back home, starting nonprofits, or serving their new community by any means possible. By offering America to them, the country itself gains their motivation and capacity for progress.
Despite their potential, many are concerned that refugees propose too many risks to the American public if accepted into our boundaries. The media has bombarded them with several accusing labels over time, but many have not earned these titles. After witnessing the mass destruction that occurred in Syria over their six-year conflicts, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, reasons: “These are people that flee from danger, they’re not dangerous themselves.” Indeed, since the terror attack of 2001, over 784,000 refugees have embarked on a journey to the U.S.; out of that collective, police have arrested only three for conspiracy of terror attacks. Clearly, the vast majority of refugees are not dangerous, despite the negative blanket statements we often associate with them.
Many are also unaware of how thorough and precise the screening process is to enter the U.S. People believe it's too easy for threats to hide from authority when, in reality, the process is likely too extensive to allow that to occur. The law requires that refugees first be recommended for resettlement. Following this, they must endure a 1-2 year process of evaluation before they can even step into America. Multiple high-level and educated government officials, including the head of the FBI, the secretary of Homeland Security, and the director of National Intelligence, must declare them safe. Finally, they must undergo six security database checks supplied by the U.S. Federal Government, a rigorous medical examination, and three in-person interviews. After these extensive safety precautions, it is impossible or miraculously arduous for potential suspects to enter the country, debunking the hazards that skeptics may exaggerate in defense.
Others may suspect that offering refugees asylum is too costly and suppressive to the national economy, yet contrastingly, research has concluded that accepting them has instead boosted it in many ways. Although the initial cost of transporting refugees to America and resettling them here is high, the system eventually requires émigré to pay taxes that surpass the benefits they receive to get them going. Refugees must also take on multiple jobs to sustain themselves; to validate that they are worthy of asylum, they are compelled to make a positive impact within their new communities while contributing to the cycle of economic growth. Having yet to experience the amenities and conveniences of everyday life in America, countless refugees will work hard if it means they get to stay. Contrary to what critics claim, that refugees will not be productive citizens, refugees prove their will to take advantage of the platform America offers. “We are here like ambassadors in this country,” South Sudanese refugees agree, suggesting that they will use their fortuities for the common good of helping those they left back home. Take Salva Dut, for example, a famous refugee followed throughout the novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. After coming to America, he not only educated himself through university but also founded a nonprofit organization that works to this day to bring water to hundreds of straining communities throughout Sudan. So, though it may be in the long term, America has the resources to offer asylum to those in need; in fact, it benefits from doing so.
Historically, immigrants compose the States, representative of all those who have reached America’s shores. First, the pilgrims and the settlers of the original thirteen colonies. Germans. Irish. Italians. Dutch. Fresh waves of refugees all have one thing in common: they have brought amongst them, brilliant people. Unbeknownst to most, Albert Einstein was a refugee. We celebrate him for his monumental contributions to the sciences and his genius IQ. He settled in New Jersey after fleeing Nazi persecution in his hometown in Germany. Even then, he says in a letter to the Queen of Belgium: “I am almost ashamed to be living in such peace while all the rest struggle and suffer.” This proves even further that America and the world in its entirety truly could not be where it is today without refugees. An abundance of refugees from all periods of America’s existence left a positive legacy that has hoisted it beyond its potential. They have shaped America’s values and psyche since the very beginning. Knowing this, how can one of the most well-off countries in the world justify leaving these people with nowhere to go, completely helpless? How can America demand that other countries take action while remaining stagnant itself? By being a source of salvation for people who are struggling, it can fulfill its moral duty as a powerhouse of the global community with the potential to address the crisis. Famed upon its welcoming nature as the world’s melting pot, the U.S. needs to develop compassion for refugees relying upon foreign aid. Especially when demand is higher than ever, the U.S. cannot deny this necessity.
Written by writer Julia Loritz