The Shadow of Anti-Immigration Over the Syrian Refugee Crisis

Deep-rooted suspicion and complicated procedures preventing the U.S. from accepting more Syrian refugees

Sophia Cheng

Staff Writer

    Four years into the Syrian Civil War and the flood of refugees has sent millions seeking shelter in Europe and thousands more in South America, but due to America’s strict immigration policies, less than two thousand refugees have made it onto U.S. shores according to CNN.

    Dating back to 1798, rampant Nativism has built bureaucratic barriers around the “Land of the Free.” More than two centuries later, the wariness and resentment towards foreigners has not faded. In fact, after the 9/11 attack, immigration procedures once again favor enforcement rather than legalization or visa reform according to immigration deputy director Marc R. Rosenblum.  With the brutal conflicts spurred by ISIS involving civilians abroad, and discrimination within, history is being revived in what seems to have become, sadly, a standard American procedure.

    In response to pressure from the European countries, President Barack Obama has announced that the United States would be accepting 10,000 Syrian refugees the next fiscal year. Even so, against Germany’s pledge of 700,000 more refugees and Venezuela’s goal of 20,000 refugees from Syria alone, 10,000 people seem to be a pitiful, half-hearted gesture made by an unwilling participant in this crisis.

    From jumping borders to riding packed inflatable rafts across turbulent waters, refugees are resorting to increasingly treacherous methods to cross into safer territories. Halfway across the world, the United States is free from the responsibility of controlling the tide of refugees pouring out of Syria. Instead, they have sent over one billion dollars in assistance to Europe while a political battle hesitantly pushes for reform. These people need safe passage to new homes, not a slow and steady change that could take years to produce. As of now, neither have been granted in the magnitude needed to make a real difference by the United States.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has already referred 18,000 cases to the United States for resettlement. Many are victims, and more than half are children. With this in mind, the 10,000 person limit seems grossly insufficient. Combined with the eighteen to twenty-four month waiting period to weed out potential terrorists, any efforts the United States has made has been bottlenecked. What the Syrian refugees need is an immediate response- a streamlined resettlement process- which the United States can provide, but currently is not prepared to risk.

  People still fear that the chaos of a large-scale immigration. Possibly a golden ticket for terrorists trying to penetrate the border, the United States could be vulnerable to attacks from within. However, depicting the refugees as potential terrorists only fuels the negative false image branding an entire culture. Immigration promotes diversity and tolerance, and provides a workforce with a wide range of skills according to the Immigration Policy Council.

    With the thousands, if not millions of lives that are at stake, the United State’s safety concerns cannot justify its silent stand in this humanitarian crisis.

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