In the final months of 2016, the estimated number of the world's total refugees was at 22 million according to the report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The estimates represented an increase in the number of world's refugees by about one million compared to the previous year. From the estimates, only about 16 million refugees were under the obligation of the UNHCR. Thus, approximately 6 million are either unaccounted for or left to survive on their own. Considering the renewed conflict in Syria, it is worrying that the number might even increase further. The latest United Nations (UN) estimates show that Syria alone has about 5.4 million refugees, most of whom have sought asylum in Europe. The UN released the report in December 2017. However, it is Turkey that has the highest number of refugee influx. Estimated at 3.8 million refugees, followed by Lebanon, Jordan, and Germany both accounting for approximately 4.1 million asylum seekers (Kraemer, 2017).
That said, the United States, according to the Migration and Refugee Act of 1962, has the mandate to cooperate with other bodies like the UNHCR, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) among others. Together, they help provide security and assistance to the refugees, stateless persons, and the internally displaced persons (IDPs) (Thielemann, 2018). The primary obligation of the U.S. is to ensure that the relief aid or any other form of humanitarian assistance reaches the intended destination. Apart from that, the United States helps in the monitoring of these programs. Still, this is not enough considering the current situation in Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan. The United States needs to do more than just providing legal and physical protection to the refugees and securing the relief aid. For instance, the U.S.A should double its annual intake of refugees in the country to help resettle those refugees that may not be comfortable with their current hosts. Therefore, the primary objective of this essay is to defend the argument that the U.S. should double the number of refugees that they accept for resettlement. This paper debates on the issue under three main cases: moral, economic, and security perspectives.
The U.S. policymakers must counter the propaganda being spread by ISIS to prevent young Muslims from being turned into extremists. The group which has posed itself as the faithful guardians of Sunni Islam continues to threaten the dignity of human beings day by day. ISIS has already succeeded in sending their message to Europe through the 2015 Paris attack. The members of this terror group are notorious for raping young girls as well as forcing young boys to fight for them, which is morally wrong. Apart from that, these extremists continue to spread anti-western propaganda through footage showing drowning refugees and those being mistreated by their hosts (O'Sullivan, 2016). Still, this should not be an excuse by the government of the United States to limit its intake of refugees seeking resettlement. On the contrary, by helping these people, the U.S. will counter the false narratives being spread by ISIS against the west. Also, it is not moral to send away people who are in desperate need of help. It is not their wish to flee their homes, but they did so because of unavoidable circumstances. They need a haven to raise their families.
That said, the geographical remoteness between the United States and Syria puts the U.S. far from the crisis. Comparatively, the effort of the U.S. in placing the refugees is lower than that of Turkey, Lebanon or Germany. Even Iraq has hosted an estimated 230,000 refugees considering that ISIS also conducts acts of terror within the country (Hart, Jason, and Anna Kvittingen, 2016). Besides, by the end of 2016, Germany had already resettled about 600,000 Syrian refugees. As of 2015, Saudi Arabia had a total of around 2.5 million estimated overstays. Despite the fact that the U.S has already spent an estimated amount of $4 billion in humanitarian assistance since the conflict broke out in 2011, about 1,680 refugees resettled by the United States is still lower compared to other global partners like Germany (Holmes, Seth, and Heide Castaneda, 2016). Even France has agreed to relocate 30,000 immigrants. Apart from that, considering the high level of security in the US, the country is capable of providing sanctuary to more refugees considering that the current refugee limit is 45, 000 per fiscal year. Therefore, the Congress should table proposals that will ensure that the country resettles additional refugees, that is, double the current number.
As much as critics will focus on the cost of relocating refugees as an excuse not to resettle them, we cannot afford to ignore the economic benefits that result from the process. For example, a report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found out that the U.S. government spends about $15,000 in relocating refugees and another $92,000 in providing them with social welfare services for the first twenty years. However, the report also found out that over the same period, these resettled refugees paid approximately $130,000 in taxes (Kerwin, 2015). In 2015 alone, about 181,400 refugee businesspersons residing in the U.S. generated $4.5 billion in business revenue. Also, as entrepreneurs, they help to provide employment opportunities to others. Previous studies also dispute the argument that refugees will take jobs from American citizens, saying it is not true. The effect is negligible especially for a global economic power like the United States.
Moreover, these refugees can help to strengthen the workforce of the United States (White, 2017). For instance, the first refugee from Darfur, Sudan to get resettled in Alaska, U.S. is prospering both financially and psychologically. The refugee, At-Tahir Karief, who now works at the Anchorage airport in Alaska, arrived in the United States in 2008 from Ghana where he had lived in a refugee camp with his family for three years. Karief and his family were among the few who benefited from the resettlement program in 2008. Today, he loads and unloads cargo arriving at the Anchorage airport, Alaska. His children also go to school and hopefully they too will finish their studies and get jobs.
There exists a notion among many Americans that most Muslims are terrorists. This belief is vague and stereotypical. Today, there still exist concerns that ISIS might use refugees as perpetrators of acts of terror in the host country especially after the November 2015 Paris shooting at Charlie Hebdo. Nevertheless, none of the shooters were identified as refugees but were found to be French, and Belgium citizens turned Islamist radicals. Also, research indicates that from a total of about 3.2 million refugees resettled in the U.S. from 1995 to 2014, only 20 were confirmed to be terrorists (Lester Jr, 2014). The twenty account for a negligible portion of the total number. Only three of them conducted acts of terror within the United States, killing about three civilians and injuring a few more.
Apart from that, the United States of America has one of the most sophisticated but reliable vetting systems in the world. The vetting process of selecting refugees who are eligible for asylum in the U.S.A. is long and follows a series of procedures. For example, for one to qualify for resettlement, he or she must produce documents detailing one's nation of origin, medical records, certificate of proper conduct, and education certificates in case available (Milner, 2016). The interrogation is equally brutal. Therefore, it is highly impossible to accept a terrorist as the odds of him or her going past the vetting process are slim. Thus, by trusting in our vetting system, the U.S. can double the number of refugees that they accept for resettlement.
This essay attempted to defend the argument that the United States should double the number of refugees they guarantee relocation to the U.S. The first part of the paper highlights the current refugee crisis in the world. According to the illustration given, the overall refugee population in the world today is at about 22 million. The argument mostly relates to the current situation in Syria where innocent civilians lose their lives on a daily basis. The others who are lucky to escape death are seeking asylum in different nations. Currently, most European countries including Germany and the United Kingdom are taking in refugees from Syria. Nevertheless, their effort is not enough as the number continues to increase considering the renewed conflict between Syrian Forces and ISIS. The moral perspective of the case considers the aspect of human dignity above other dynamics. The economic section highlights the financial impacts of resettling refugees into the United States. Lastly, the security perspective justifies the argument by rejecting the stereotypic belief that the resettled refugees can turn into terrorists.
Hart, Jason, and Anna Kvittingen. "Rights without borders? Learning from the institutional response to Iraqi refugee children in Jordan." Children's Geographies 14.2 (2016): 217-231.
Holmes, Seth M., and Heide Castaneda. "Representing the European refugee crisis in Germany and beyond: Deservingness and difference, life and death." American Ethnologist 43.1 (2016): 12-24.
Kerwin, Donald. "The US refugee protection system on the 35th anniversary of the refugee act of 1980." J. on Migration & Hum. Sec. 3 (2015): 205.
Kraemer, R. Andreas. "The G20 and Building Global Governance for Climate Refugees." (2017).
Lester Jr, Christopher R. "Refugee Education and Economic Integration: A Qualitative Study of the United States Refugee Admissions Program." (2014).
O'Sullivan, Maria."The ethics of resettlement: Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region." The International Journal of Human Rights 20.2 (2016): 241-263.
Milner, James. "When Norms Are Not Enough: Understanding the Principle and Practice of Burden and Responsibility Sharing for Refugees." (2016).
Thielemann, Eiko. "Why Refugee BurdenSharing Initiatives Fail: Public Goods, FreeRiding and Symbolic Solidarity in the EU." JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 56.1 (2018): 63-82.
White, Maureen. "Forced Migration is Our Future." SAIS Review of International Affairs 37.2 (2017): 75-85.
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