Assisting Syrian Refugees

On the Statue of Liberty are engraved the words “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.” The monument stands as a welcome to all new immigrants, and these words provide a clear answer to U.S. involvement in the refugee crisis. The United States has a moral imperative to take in more refugees and provide as much support as possible. As it stands, the refugee crisis spans many different nations, European and Middle Eastern alike. There are currently over 7.1 million displaced Syrians. Turkey has taken in 1.9 million, and Lebanon, a nation of only 4.4 million, has taken in over 1.1 million Syrian refugees.

Both of these nations are now suffering due to an over-taxation of resources and lack of foreign aid. Europe falls significantly behind with approximately 348,540 people applying for asylum. Yet, even this low number is large in comparison to the United States’ mere 1,500 taken in. The United States needs not only to step up aid for refugees, but also for the countries taking them in. We must also remember that these people are refugees, not migrants. They have been focefully supplanted from their lives. They are people like you, not simply numbers on a screen. The United States can take a three-pronged approach to easing the crisis. As a nation, we must provide support to nations taking in refugees, receive refugees ourselves, and convince other nations to be more open to refugees.

Jordan is a small Arab nation near Syria. It is not only an ally of the United States, but an extremely generous nation. The Jordanian family who spoke with Pope Francis is an excellent representation of the people’s generosity as a whole. So far, Jordan has received over 1 million people; so many in fact that their fourth largest city is actually a refugee camp. Unfortunately, there have been several downsides to this incredible act of mercy. The Jordanians have been relatively unassisted and their economy is straining under the relief attempts. Such strain destroys the infrastructure of the nation and taxes the people, increasing instability and may eventually displace Jordanians, too.

This overwhelming influx is not just a possibility in Jordan, but in several countries surrounding Syria as well. This is the point at which the United States can step in and cause major change in the world. Transporting thousands of people can be extremely expensive, but providing relief to the afflicted area costs only a fraction of transportation. In the case that we do nothing to assist those nations helping Syrian refugees, the economic implications would be insurmountable. Losing a key oil-producing nation, or even several, would be detrimental to the global economy. Helping those nations take care of the refugees would put a stop to the possibility of more instability that would cause shockwaves all over the world, both political and economic. Even with billions of dollars of aid, all nations have a limit to the number of refugees that they can take. The United States must directly alleviate a burden carried by only a handful of nations.

As mentioned earlier, the United States has received a pitiful number of refugees. Other nations have overextended themselves with their kindness, while the U.S. has done nearly nothing. America is one of the most powerful nations in the world; it is extremely wealthy, but what is more, it one of the most expansive nations in the world– several times larger than the nations that have taken in the most refugees. There is simply no excuse that the United States has not taken in more. The main reason that America has not taken in more refugees is because of a prevailing sentiment of her citizens: that they have no obligation to assist any people not our closest allies.

In the perspective of the past, this lack of responsibility could not be further from the truth. The United States has a long tradition of taking in the “poor and huddled masses.” If it is to follow through on the words that made America the great melting pot it is today, America should receive far more refugees. If a moral obligation is not enough, the United States is also intrinsically linked to the instability that permitted the refugee crisis to occur. Constant wars, CIA-backed coups, and economic sanctions have devestated the Middle East; a crisis only worsened by arms dealing to terrorist groups in the Syrian areas. These actions directly link the United States to the Middle East’s problems, so the U.S. should lessen some of them.

Distance remains a problem. Combatting the refugee crisis has ultimately fallen upon the nations in the immediate vicinity of Syria. Although many have opened loving arms to these downtrodden people, many nations have accepted Islamophobia and hatred as a response. America must convince these nations to accept refugees. This can be done through funding, treaties, economic relief, or countless other compromises. The Washington Post agrees that taking in immigrants who are willing to work in a new nation is a net positive not only for the economy, but the nation as a whole. America can use this information as well as the vast amount of wealth at its disposal to make other nations more hospitable to the refugees.
These people are trying simply to survive, and the U.S. as well as all other nations of the world need to create a concentrated effort to help them.