19 November 2015

Refugees, Again

My son had to write an opinion paper on a current today for a school assignment so we talked about the refugees and I got all worked up about it again so here's what I would have written if someone gave me that assignment.

Right now I'm worked up about the number of Republican governors who think that refugees are a danger to their states and that they think that they can keep any legal and law-abiding residents of the US outside of their states.  They are spouting an incredible amount of misinformation.

First, no one is going to try to enter the US as a refugee in order to commit a heinous crime for one very simple reason: there are much easier ways to enter the US.  Not only do you have to be recognized by the UN as a refugee, you also have to go through significantly more extensive screenings that take well over a year to be allowed to enter the US as a refugee.  There are a wide variety of visas available, many of which just require you to pay the fee, have one interview, and get approved to enter the US.  Why in the world would you bother coming in as a refugee when there are easier ways to get in? Of course it isn't impossible that someone would try it, but the chance is small enough that it's not something to make statements about.

Second, the screenings actually do work and have for a long time.  This Syrian refugee population isn't radically different from other refugee populations.  Many refugees don't have proper ID and we have been able to figure out ways around that- that would be an unreasonable barrier to allowing Syrian refugees in because that's a common problem for any refugee.  There have been nearly 750,000 refugees admitted since 9/11 and two have been arrested for plotting terrorist attacks in Iraq.  None of those refugees has ever actually carried out anything like a terrorist attack in the US.  This is not a random process.

Third, this hullabaloo over refugees is a manufactured crisis anyway because there is absolutely no evidence that any of the Paris attackers even were refugees [ETA later that it appears that nearly all were EU citizens, but not all]. They were already EU citizens. We are talking about turning people away for no reason at all.

Fourth, these governors don't seem to understand that they can't keep people out of their states.  Refugees are allowed into the US by the federal government.  Various NGOs help them find housing and jobs.  Refugees, like anyone else in the US, don't have to stay in any one state.  There is no way to keep people from moving to your state unless you want to set up border patrols to see what kind of visa or residence permits people have. When they have arrived in the US, they can go anywhere, just like anyone else.

Really, the best way to keep refugees out of your state is to not have decent jobs available and a high COL.  Because refugees choose their homes the same way everyone else does- you need a place to live and a job.

I've already talked about the statistics of the refugee crisis and how very clear it is that the countries surrounding Syrian cannot handle this problem on their own.  The proposal to not allow refugees into the US at all, as some people are calling for, shouldn't even be considered.  If we care about the victims of ISIS, we must help the Syrian refugees.

ETA that the House has voted to stop refugees entering the US from Syria and Iraq.  I, not surprisingly, think it is unwarranted and inexcusable to ban people from entering based on their ethnicity.  Do we really want to be that kind of country?  I am so disappointed in the response this week.


  1. Thank you for writing this. I am embarrassed by these governers refusal.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I am embarrassed by these governers refusal.

  3. Agree. Thanks for the clear writing.