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Posted by on Nov 20, 2015 in Blogs |

Thoughts on the Refugee Crisis and Republicans

This post is a little all over the place – it had served as a way for me to vent some frustration. The first part provides some basic information on the refugee program in the United States and then a bit of context to the current political situation. I apologize in advance if it seems angry, but frankly it’s how I feel right now.

LE_Eithne_Operation_TritonIn the past week we have been inundated with discussions of refugees and immigration due to the aftermath of the attacks in Paris. Discussions of domestic security, American values, and how to handle incoming refugees have dominated the news and this most certainly has been of great concern to our Presidential candidates.

The USA currently has a Refugee Admissions program administered through the State Department which aims to provide a safe place for those fleeing danger in their home countries. According to the State Department site, the U.S. has welcomed over 3 million refugees from all around the world since 1975. To be accepted into the USA as a refugee is a long, complicated process that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner  for Refugees, takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months. The process is extensive, including adjudication interviews, security screenings, health screenings, sponsorship assurance, and a cultural orientation. The program has been in place for years and seems to work reasonably well

When the Syrian refugee crisis became evident and unavoidable this past summer, the Obama Barack_Obama_at_White_House_gun_violence_meetingadministration announced that it would take in 10,000 of these refugees within the next year. After last Friday’s tragic attacks on Paris initiated by ISIS, many politicians have changed their tune drastically about letting in these refugees as they believe that the asylum-seekers could bring terrorists with them. The House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that, by enforcing even stiffer entry requirements, could halt the arrival of refugees.

So why does this matter to the election?

American presidential candidates have been pushed to take a stance on the issue and tow the party line. This has resulted in what can be boiled down to nothing more than Islamophobia, fear-mongering, and racism on the behalf of the Republican candidates.

Donald Trump has stated that he would implement a database to keep track of Muslim immigrants in the United States. Ben Carson used a metaphor comparing some refugees to “rabid dogs”.

The Syrian refugee crisis encompasses many of the serious issues that divide my country – issues of race, religion, security, immigration, economics, and so much more. There is no perfect solution but denying safety to those who are fleeing their home country for their lives simply can’t be the answer.

I am honestly at a loss for words. As an expat living far away from my family, my home, and the state in which I grew up, rhetoric like this makes me feel physically sick – I have been beaten up by this all week. I have been lucky enough to have been able to leave the country in which I was raised by choice – and it is still difficult. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to leave without a choice, without any other options. I have to wonder if these GOP candidates truly believe what they are saying and understand the extent to which their statements are soul-crushingly upsetting. I hope that we won’t have to look back on this time in 50 years and face the shame of what we have done.

With 353 days until the election,

Phoebe Warren

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  1. Expat Elector Weekly Roundup #5 | McGill International Review - […] the Paris attacks and various political discussions that have stemmed as a result. Read my article “Thoughts on the…
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