- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 02 December 2015
- Written by KATHARINE DIX | STAFF WRITER
After the Paris Attacks three weeks ago, The White House has released to the press and on their website that President Obama is going to welcome 10,000 Syrian Refugees into our country within the next fiscal year. This has sparked debates throughout the country on if this is the right way to go.
Some say no, because they could be radicals and pose a threat to our country, and that we need to first take care of our own citizens before taking care of those from other nations. Others say yes and are sympathetic to the situation the refugees are coming from.
Not all states are as welcoming as President Obama. CNN reported in Nov. that 31 states are not allowing refugees into the country. These leaders mainly oppose allowing refugees to enter the country because they believe they will be security threats.
Dr. Saliba Sarsar, professor of political science, also had thoughts on whether or not we should allow refugees into the United States. He said, “We have millions of refugees who find themselves in this tragic condition because of a civil war or conflict that has been going on for years. Many have found a temporary home in the Middle East or Europe. This is a tragic and humanitarian issue. I am very supportive of helping refugees find a permanent home. Many refugees say that if peace comes, they want to return back home. They lose loved ones and property because of war so I am very sympathetic. There is a fear that within these refugees, in these numbers, there may be a few radicals posing as refugees and that they may be members of the Islamic State. This is something that concerns me and all of us.”
He continues, “But what I want to explain is that the U.S., with President Obama indicating taking about 10,000 refugees, requires potential refugees to go through organizations such as the CIA or FBI. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee. But we need to trust the system and welcome them with open arms. It is mostly women and children that are looking for a new home and it is our moral obligation and human response to give them one.”
There is a very complicated process that anyone must go through before becoming a refugee. A video on the website “attn.” narrated by Secretary of Defense Jeh Johnson describes the situation step by step.
First, the person must apply to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to obtain refugee status. It must be proven that the person in question can no longer live safely in their home without the fear of being prosecuted for their race, religion, political affiliation, social group, or nationality. Once they meet refugee crisis, the refugee is referred to a country. If the person is referred to the U.S. Government, they go through a more rigorous screening process than anyone else entering the United States.
According to RCUSA, they go through a resettlement support center where the refugee’s personal background information is acquired and sent to the Department of Homeland Security for the in person interview. As said in the attn. video, the refugees go through process with the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State.
In addition to these security measures, RCUSA adds that refugees go through medical screening, they are matched with a sponsor agency, go through cultural orientation, a second interagency check, and then they are admitted into the U.S. Clearly, it is a very thorough process. Attn. reports that Johnson believes Syrians have to go through an even more intense screening process.
An argument of many citizens who are against allowing refugees into the country is that we need to first focus our fiscal attention on our own citizens. What they do not realize, is that every year the United States has a budget already set aside for supporting refugees. The State Department reports that this fiscal year’s budget allocates $442.7 million to refugee admissions, $35 million to administrative expenses, and $1.15 billion for overseas assistance.
According to supporters of President Obama’s agenda, by aiding the refugees and allowing them into our country and helping them begin new lives, we are not taking anything away from the American citizens because a budget such as this is set aside for refugee related expenses every year.
The U.N. reports that Syrians are now the largest percentage of refugees. More than 12.2 million people are in need of asylum; this is half of the population of Syria. 5.6 million of those people are children.
Mallory Iselberg, a junior political science major, explains her take on the situation. “We should let them into our country, but we should monitor how many we let in. we cannot let 5 million in, because what are we going to go with them all? I say yes, we have always had bands of people come in, so I do not see how this should be any different.”