“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free ...”
When these words were engraved onto the Statue of Liberty, they were engraved as principles on what this nation ought to stand for. Today, these words are being challenged by those who want to close America’s borders to the thousands of Syrian refugees who are fighting to escape a warzone for a better life.
Life in Syria is absolutely barbaric. People currently living in Syria are living a life of fear and despair. Each day they live could be their last, as barrel bombs are dropped on rebel-held territories on a regular basis.
It is a moral obligation for the United States to accept these Syrian refugees. As the leader of the free world, we ought to join the rest of the world by taking charge of this humanitarian crisis.
The naysayers believe that America should focus more on combating terrorism in Syria rather than giving Syrians a free pass to enter this country. I disagree. If the goal is to combat extremism, then taking refugees is a better tactic than letting them anguish in ghastly camps.
This notion that Syrian refugees who are entering the United States are going through very little background checks is simply not true. Since Sept. 11, 2001, America has resettled 784,000 refugees, according to the Migration Policy Institute. To enter the United States with refugee status, you must go through a very thorough, extensive background check that can take as long as 18 months. This background check is so extensive the Huffington Post reported that “no competent terrorist would choose the U.S. refugee process as a preferred strategy for gaining entry into the U.S.”
The facts are that none of the Paris attackers were Syrian refugees. The refugees who want to come to the West are willing to migrate through dangerous terrain for a better life. Life in Syria is uninhabitable to the point where migrants risk their lives by sailing across the Mediterranean for a new one.
The refugees who have already come to the United States are better incorporated into our society because migration to America is a chance at a better life. These refugees have witnessed some of mankind’s worst atrocities, and after being relocated to the western world, they want to give back to society in any way they can.
I spoke to a fellow college student who has seen firsthand what life is like in a refugee camp. Nour Al Nahhas, a Syrian American, traveled to Turkey this past summer to help the refugees in need.
In his own words, he described these refugee camps as a “place where people live in rubbles.” I asked him what he would say to those who are opposed to the migration of Syrian refugees. He replied, “Syrian refugees are just like you and I. They want a normal life. They just want to be able to live in peace.”
Rezwan Haq is a Contributing Columnist for the Central Florida Future.