With the public eye glued to election coverage, issues that may have been overlooked in the media now take center stage. Specifically, the Syrian refugee crisis has given way to debate between both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton over how our country should respond to what is one of the biggest humanitarian crises in modern history.
Since the start of Syria’s civil war, millions of refugees have fled the country in search of safety. Many have found refuge in other countries such as Turkey, Egypt and Iraq; however, according to Amnesty International, there are 13.5 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance within Syrian borders.
A common view among liberals is that our government should allow the refugees to seek asylum in the United States. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that the United States is too full as it is and should worry about its own citizens before concerning itself with other countries. For many, the main reason for this mindset is the fear of allowing terrorists into the United States.
There is no simple answer to this debate. While Syrians need the sort of help that America has historically provided to countries in need, allowing refugees into the country could pose a threat for the security of Americans. The question then remains, which of these arguments holds more weight?
U.S. safety should be a priority. Inviting terrorists to seek refuge in the United States does neither the refugees nor American citizens any good. That being said, the vetting process for refugees is such that it allows minimal possibility for this to happen.
Trump, as well as many fear-mongering Republicans, would have Americans believe that immigrants as well as refugees do little other than hinder the economy and pose threats to American citizens. Yet, this is categorically untrue.
In order for refugees to be granted entrance into the country stringent background checks are placed on each person. Agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center all take part in screening the potential refugees before they are granted entrance. All in all, the average screening process takes over a year and a half.
Despite allegations of inaccuracies in this procedure, it has proven to be very effective. Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 800,000 refugees have been relocated in the United States. Of those, only three have been arrested for terrorist-based offenses.
In light of these statistics, I do not understand how Americans can allow Syrian refugees to suffer when we have the capacity to help. It is not only our political responsibility, but our moral responsibility to respond to others in times of crisis.
In times of fear, people tend to make things highly political, seeing foreign policy issues as an “us vs. them” scenario. But these distinctions only serve to divide us as humans and that’s what we are above all else: humans. How can we, as people, allow other people to die at the hands of war and strife without doing everything in our power to help?
As Americans, we have been gifted with freedoms unknown to many. I don’t know what it’s like to see my loved ones killed by militants or have my home ravaged, but I do know that others of my species face these very issues. This is not an us vs. them debate. This is a human issue that is within our power to change. There are political obstacles in our way, but these too we can overcome. The only question is, will we?
Kayley Horton is a junior majoring in English.