The large influx of migrants racing across the border of Europe has been the largest amount since World War II. Hundreds of thousands of people from conflicting zones in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere have been taking boats, trains or walking the long trek to secure a better life. A refugee by definition is “someone who has been forced to leave a country because of war or for religious or political reasons.” As the reader can see, this does not include economic disparity or environmental issues. Since there has been an obvious push back in politics as to who should accept them and how many should be accepted, we must examine the added ideas as to what a refugee is. In America the word refugee is frequently accompanied by immigrant or immigration, which is, in itself, an already hotly debated topic. Linking the Mexican immigration debate with Syrian refugees (even though the issues behind each are politically different) allows the public to categorize them as the same, thus already deciding on refugees based on their opinions of immigration. Other aspects of a refugee such as national origin, religion, gender and race are characteristics taken into account as well.
Linking the Mexican immigration debate with Syrian refugees (even though the issues behind each are politically different) allows the public to categorize them as the same, thus already deciding on refugees based on their opinions of immigration.
Currently, Muslims in the western world have been categorized as terrorists due to the fear and misunderstanding of Islam and the Muslim culture. It is understandable to have fear based on past experiences (9/11, Paris attacks in November 2015, Charlie Hebdo, San Bernardino shooting and others) but the temptation to generalize is the real danger. Education is a strong tool and should be used to further your knowledge and understanding of what the world really is, not what it looks like.
The European Union (EU), which has been unable to solve the problem thus far, has put forth many ideas to help slow or stop the flow of refugees. The EU has suspended the Dublin Regulation for Syrians, which states that a refugee has to seek asylum in the first country they set foot in. Germany’s proposal is to increase the number of refugees admitted into Germany. France also agrees that there should be a binding number of refugees for all EU members to accept to help balance the burden. Places like Hungary, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia have temporarily closed their borders to any refugees who are not fleeing a war-torn area and in some cases to all refugees no matter their status. The United States has agreed to resettle at least 85,000 refugees with a minimum of 10,000 being Syrian. Others have proposed to keep all refugees in their homeland and provide safe zones on the ground and in the air to allow for an easy return when the war is over. To accompany this last plan is increased financial, medicine and food aid to camps in all countries.
Looking back in history, two recurring causes of war and destruction are misunderstanding and fear.
All of these countries have their own idea, however, they all have one thing in common, security. Some countries believe that to ensure their country’s security they should accept refugees to help reduce the amount of misunderstood hatred. Others believe that closing their country off to possible threats is the best way to guard against it. Looking back in history, two recurring causes of war and destruction are misunderstanding and fear. In 1914, the distrust of Germany, France and Russia led to quick and rash decisions starting World War I. With the rise of Hitler in 1933 hate propaganda spread rapidly allowing the killing of up to 17 million people. With the fear of Communism, countries went head first into wars that probably could have been prevented or settled off the battlefield. After 9/11 the horror of the United States lapse in security and the acknowledgment that “they” could get us sent the United States into a 13-year war costing thousands of lives and four to six trillion dollars.
Now, once again, we are at a crossroads in history where misunderstanding and fear are shaping our decisions. I am not, and do not profess to be, an expert in the migrant crisis but I do know that we have approached similar circumstances in the past and should learn from our mistakes. I do not have the answers to what can solve this problem but I do think that showing the refugees that the west can and are willing to help keep them safe and provide them with basic human resources (water, food, medicine and shelter) will be beneficial to everyone’s security and economy in the future.
U.S. Presidential Candidates View:
- Not an intellectually smart decision to accept refugees.
- Allowing up to 65,000 Syrian refugees with a careful screening and vetting process.
- All those who are fleeing, besides Christians, should be resettled in the Middle East in Muslim countries. Christians should be provided safe haven in the United States.
- Allowing refugees would be a security risk to the United States.
- Can’t take more refugees because they cannot be properly background-checked.
- United States should take its full responsibility in helping refugees (no specific number).
- Will not accept refugees and will send all back.