The Bruin Voice

Pro/Con: Should the U.S. take in refugees from countries with strong Anti-American sentiment?

Jessica Dang and Sophie Gilliland

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Jessica Dang: Pro

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Many Americans have diverged from adopting the sentiments that the Founding Fathers once had: to create a land of the free and home of the brave.  While it’s reasonable for the government to be cautious when admitting refugees from regions that share strong anti-American sentiment, America has done little in assisting these struggling families while many governors are trying to block their entry into their states.

Refugees, according to Dictionary.com, are “people who have been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.”  It is a poor preconceived notion to believe that a refugee’s agenda consists of terrorizing a country who has sought to relieve them of adversities in their time of need.  By shipping these refugees back to their native country, America is practically handing them back to ISIS recruiters.

Rather than point fingers at refugees — which include the elderly, orphaned children and families — on the basis of falsehoods, America needs to find a balance between compassion for refugees and national security against high-profile terrorist organizations.  Blocking these refugees from seeking asylum in western countries does not demonstrate “American humanitarianism” — if it even exists anymore.  The American public’s endorsement of abandoning its international responsibilities only sets an example for other countries to continue to breed international disdain and hostility toward these refugees.  Wrong trends and wrong messages will take years to compensate for.

If America wants to maintain that safety is the main concern, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security should address security concerns that continue to evolve.  Refugees are only vetted and admitted by the federal government and the UN which takes 18-24 months to process through extensive screenings and if extra scrutiny should be applied to Syrians, so be it.  It is better to give these refugees a chance to prove themselves rather than being denied access under the default belief of false premises.

Admitted foreigners, immigrants and students studying abroad with education visas should be subjected to weekly check ins, not only for security purposes but the assurance of their own safety.  When word gets out that these immigrants originated from Syria or an anti-American country, their lives will be endangered.

The majority of Syrian refugees who sought asylum in the United States are peacefully navigating their lives through education, employment and financial assistance programs.  Fear of the unknown and terrorist attacks often blinds the public from tangible evidence that many of these refugees are capable of reciprocity within western societies.

The question of why anti-American sentiments continue to exist globally is a simple one to answer: Americans are lazy in practicing what they preach.

Sophie Gilliland: Con

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Current high schoolers are too young perhaps to understand the devastation of 9/11, but many can remember what they felt when they witnessed the mass shootings, suicide bombings and hostage taking in Paris last November that left 130 people dead and nearly 400 injured.  The carnage took place in cafés, restaurants, and concert halls frequented by young people.

It is now known that at least two of the Islamic extremists who carried out the attacks used fake Syrian passports and pretended to be Syrian refugees as they made their way through Greece.

While only a few refugees might turn out to be terrorists, there are some people who can easily get a fake passport to travel into a Western country where they can inspire others to join them in a terrorist attack.  Nevertheless, the problem of fake passports is real — in fact, ISIS “is producing fake passports on an industrial scale,” Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s interior minister, said according to an article in “The Wall Street Journal.”

“[The Islamic State] managed to seize passports in Iraq, Syria, and Libya and to set up a true industry of fake passports,” Cazeneuve added.

For those who claim that the U.S. just needs to monitor the refugees more carefully, we need only look at how well the Department of Homeland Security is able to keep tabs on thousands of foreigners who enter on student visas. Currently, over 6,000 of these students have simply disappeared — and their visas have expired.

One of the terrorists who flew the plane into the Pentagon during 9/11 came to the U.S. under an education visa to attend flight school  — one that was uncredited. Still, he nearly succeeded.

Until the government can separate the people who actually need to take refuge or pose no threat to the general safety of Americans from the people who want to come to the country to harm Americans, they should at least take extra caution when thinking about refugees.

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About the Writer
Sophie Gilliland, Online Editor-in-Chief

Even though I started out as a simple opinion editor at the Bruin Voice in my sophomore year, I have now reached my junior year and the almighty positions...

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Pro/Con: Should the U.S. take in refugees from countries with strong Anti-American sentiment?