US must accept Syrian refugees

By: Duke Staff

Beyond the modified profile pictures and humanitarian hashtags honoring those killed in the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris is a startling amount of political fear-mongering, misinformation and xenophobia in America.

Thirty governors and nearly every Republican presidential candidate called on the Obama administration this week to turn back the 10,000 Syrian refugees it promised to accept in 2016, in fear of one or more of them being Islamic State (ISIS)-inspired radicals.

Sen. Ted Cruz proposed accepting only Syrian Christians and not Syrian Muslims. Donald Trump said he would deport Syrian migrants and close mosques. Gov. Chris Christie said Syrian orphans under the age of five shouldn’t even be allowed in the U.S.

These are the same people who pledge to “Make America great again!”

Well, here is our chance.

America, in all its might, has always stood by the ethical obligation to protect civilians fleeing persecution and war. As one of the world’s most prosperous and secure nations, the U.S. can and should adequately provide safety to those in desperation.

The Syrians are certainly desperate. Since 2012, approximately four million people have fled the country, which has been ravaged by a never-ending civil war and the brutal totalitarian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have been taken in by neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, but have not been able to avoid the uncertainty of violence in the region. America is the land of hope for many.

The argument that accepting Syrian refugees will compromise America’s security is misguided. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has admitted 1.5 million migrants from the Middle East. In that time, there have been no recorded terrorist attacks committed by refugees from any country. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have said that refugees are no more likely to commit acts of terrorism than other citizens.

That’s because the refugees that America accepts – upon recommendation from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees – are vetted through an extremely comprehensive process that involves the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center and the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security.

If the U.S. rejects Syrian refugees on the absurd foundation that Muslims are inherently dangerous, it could also potentially galvanize support for ISIS in the Middle East. The radical group regularly recruits Muslims who feel disparaged and marginalized.

Allowing 10,000 Syrian refugees to seek safety in the U.S. is a moderate step in the right direction. To stand up to terrorism, our nation must share the responsibility of harboring those in danger.