How to Vet the Syrian Refugees

Domestic, International, Political Cartoons

Vetting Syrian Refugees

 Political leaders in the U.S., particularly on the far right, have used the attacks in Paris to galvanize support for their anti-immigrant platforms. Based on evidence that one of the attackers may have posed as a refugee to gain access to Europe, the House recently passed a bill to halt settling any refugees in the U.S. that originated from Syria or Iraq. Over two dozen governors have also, without any legal authority, refused refugees. This behavior, while not without precedent, is both baseless and repugnant to the fundamental character of this country.

There are over 4.3 million U.N-registered refugees who have fled Syria. Lebanon, which had a population of 4.5 million, absorbed 1.2 million Syrian refugees. Turkey, with a population of 75 million, is housing 2 million refugees.

And it’s not just countries in the Middle East accepting refugees from Syria. Germany (80 million) has accepted 38,500 Syrian refugees. France (population: 66 million) announced, days after the attack in Paris, that it would accept 30,000 refugees. Canada, (population: 35 million), has taken in 36,300 Syrian refugees since 2013.

The U.S., a country of 319 million people,  so far, has accepted 1,682 refugees – about half of which are children, according to the State Department. The process currently takes about 18-24 months, and includes interviews with officials from the Department of Homeland Security. Syrian refugees, in particular, have their documents placed under extra scrutiny. For all the panic, this doesn’t seem like a very convenient way for a would-be terrorist to gain access to the U.S.

In terms of moral responsibility, it should be noted that ISIS emerged largely as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and particularly the decision to disband the Iraqi army. Yet France and Germany, two countries which sternly opposed the Iraq war, and bearing much more of the burden of accepting families fleeing the region.

The Obama administration has pledged to take in 10,000 refugees from Syria. The U.S. can and should accept significantly more. There was also opposition to accepting refugees from Southeast Asia during the last decades of the 20th century – but the U.S. accepted more than a million without significant issue. Welcoming Syrian refugees is important for humanitarian reasons, and also for our character as a country. If some of the Republican candidates truly want to “make America great again,” they could start by returning America to a country that welcomes, rather than repels, immigrants and refugees yearning to breath free.

One Good Reason to Vote

Domestic

Get Out Of the Vote

 

 

One good reason to vote – regardless of who or what you’re voting for – is that many Republican governors and legislatures across the country have been working tirelessly to create barriers to the ballot. Much of this is done under the guise of preventing voter fraud, but the argument doesn’t pass inspection. In Texas, where under current laws citizens can vote using a gun permit but not a student ID, as many as 600,000 people may not be able to vote. Texas’s strict voting regulation is being pushed despite there being only 2 cases of voter fraud out of 20 million votes cast statewide in the past decade. Many politicians have come right out and said what the voter ID laws are about: narrowing the voting pool. For example, Chris Christie said that the GOP needed to win gubernatorial races so that they were the ones controlling the “voting mechanisms” going into 2016. This is because the stricter voting regulations have a disproportionate impact on minority voters.

Still think your vote doesn’t matter?

The Ebola Scare Virus

Domestic, International

Ebola Scare Virus

 

The World Health Organization labeled Ebola “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.” This is in part because it affects the world’s most vulnerable populations. Ebola is not easily transmissible in countries with public health infrastructure – it doesn’t spread like the flu – meaning the U.S. is not at any significant risk for a large outbreak. However, the sensationalist tendencies of our media and the paralysis of lawmakers during the election year make it all the more difficult to mount an effective response where the Ebola virus is causing the most damage: In Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The World Bank estimates that “90% of the economic losses during any outbreak arise from the uncoordinated and irrational efforts of the public to avoid infection.” That being said, the very least we should do as Americans is not allow our fear to act as a further detriment to the already troubled response to this emergency.

Repelling Child Refugees

Domestic, International

Repelling Child Refugees

 

Recommended Reading:

Guatemalans Aren’t Just Fleeing Gangs by Saul Elbein for the New Republic

The Process Congress Wants to Use For Child Migrants is a Disaster by Dara Lind for Vox

Arizona Politician Mistakes Bus Full of YMCA Kids For Undocumented Immigrants by Abby Phillip for The Washington Post