The U.S. Must Play a More Helpful Role in the Syrian Refugee Crisis

By Nicholas Riebel || Contributing Writer

Europe is being overrun with refugees. There’s a refugee crisis and European nations are all stepping up to the plate. Or, they should be, as should the United States.

In a time when Donald Trump is the undisputed frontrunner for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, it’s good to give some thought to our immigration system.

But first, let’s consider: the United States, as cliche as it may seem now, is indeed a nation made of immigrants. Many of these immigrants were from Europe, fleeing religious persecution, civil unrest, and tyranny. Many immigrants came from Asia, to find a better life here. Many immigrants came unwillingly, through slavery and other forms of brutality. Without immigrants America would be unrecognizable. There is not one immigrant group that can be said to have made America worse off.

Will Arabs, Muslims, and others fleeing from the violence in the Middle East, violence that we bear much of the responsibility for, be denied entry here, to this nation made of immigrants? Will we let go of the racism of our past, which is the only true reason we would deny these people emigrating here, or will we bar them? Will we go back to the days when we tried to only attract white Europeans, and only the Nordic, Protestant ones, banning all others as much as possible?

We have tried to do that before, within living memory: the Immigration Act of 1924 being a good example.

I know what some may object to: surely, we cannot let these refugees come to America! They’ll bring foreign customs and traditions with them! They won’t conform to our culture and all our standards!

Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley, the former Governor of Maryland, has proposed that the United States accept 65,000 refugees (http://cnn.it/1K5Aq00). Germany, though, is expected to take much more than we are: not just proportionately, but in total; Jordan and Lebanon are pulling more than their weight in their acceptance of refugees (http://huff.to/1iq9uSr). Our reluctance is embarrassing.

One may say that other Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia, could do more to help with the refugee crisis. And I agree. But, the U.S. should do what is right regardless of how other nations are dealing with the situation.

The United States has the capability and responsibility to absorb more refugees. We could institute screening processes for possible emigrants to allay fears. But most of the refugees are families with children.   

It is most likely that they want what we all want: an opportunity for a better life. Instead of closing our borders and instating the old racist immigration quotas of the past, let’s fix our broken immigration system so that we can become a better nation and make the world a better place.

Junior Nicholas Riebel is a staff writer. His email is nriebel@fandm.edu.

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