Citizens should help refugees in need

The polls are in: the American people are turning away from Syrian refugees.
The debate on whether or not Syrian refugees should be allowed into the U.S. has become a large political issue. After terrorist attacks such as the one in Paris on Nov. 13 by Islamic extremists, the public has entered a Muslim-fearing frenzy. Many people fear allowing Syrians into the country will lead to an increase in violence and terrorist attacks. In polls conducted by YouGov, a website that surveys the public, 51 percent of the population opposed the U.S. accepting Syrian refugees who had passed a government security screening.

The fear of refugees has been fueled by U.S. presidential candidates such a Mike Huckabee, who said, “The Statue of Liberty says ‘Bring us your tired and your weary.’ It didn’t say ‘Bring us your terrorists and let them come in here and bomb neighborhoods, cafes and concert halls.’” For the most part, the Republican candidates are opposed to allowing refugees to enter the country. However, Republican candidates Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz have said they would allow Syrian refugees to enter the country provided they were Christian because, as we all know, Christians are incapable of committing acts of terrorism.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated nine million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of the civil war in March of 2011, which began with the Arab Spring protests that toppled several dictatorships across the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad refused to step down and responded to this opposition with extreme violence. Ordinary people became stuck in a power struggle between the government, extremist groups and rebels. These people are escaping horrible war crimes including the use of chemical weapons, mass executions and torture on a large scale. They left everything they had in order to give their families hope of survival.


With a large number such as nine million, it becomes easy to think of people simply as a statistic. It is forgotten that they are humans who once lived ordinary lives like us. Now some live in huge sprawling camps which are extremely underfunded because the United Nation’s refugee agency was not prepared to deal with a crisis on such a large scale. These camps are not a permanent solution. Thousands have and will continue to risk their lives and their children’s lives crossing the sea to Europe because they have no other choice. Despite hundreds dying on this dangerous trip, it was not until the body of two-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on the coast of Turkey that people started having serious conversations about what should be done about this refugee crisis.

While some are trying to come up with real solutions, the talk among politicians in America and Europe is becoming increasingly racist. Muslims are being accused of being prone to committing crimes. The thousands of men, women and children seeking asylum are being denied due to the possibility that they may be affiliated with extremists such as ISIS. In our own fear of terrorist groups we forget that Syrian refugees are also escaping in fear of these groups.

We must remember that America was built by immigrants and refugees seeking liberty to practice their religion as they wish and freedom from oppressive rule. These are diverse people. They are mothers, doctors, students and engineers, but most importantly they are humans who are searching for a safe place to put the pieces of their lives back together. The conflict in Syria will not be an easy fix, but we can all do our part. We cannot wait for our politicians to finally take action. Rather, we should inform ourselves and do our part in helping others during a time of need.