Debate on Allowing Syrian Refugees Into the United States by I.C.

In September 2015, the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, washed up on a Turkish beach. A photographer snapped a picture that would change everything. It is the image of the lifeless body of the little boy, dressed in a red t-shirt and blue shorts, lying with his pudgy cheek pressed softly against the sand as if he were sleeping.  This single image has galvanized the Syrian crisis throughout the globe and moved millions to lend a hand to the refugees.

Aylan and his family were Syrian refugees seeking a new life in Canada. The smugglers they hired promised Aylan’s father a trip overseas on a motor boat. Instead, the smugglers came with a 15 foot, rubber raft. During the journey, the raft flipped in high waves throwing Aylan and his family into the frigid water. Aylan’s father was the only survivor (Park, Haeyoun). Tragic stories such as Aylan’s are common among the 12 million people driven by desperation and violence to leave their Syrian homeland.  All of them leave wondering where their next home will be.

In 2011, the violent Syrian Civil War began displacing millions of Syrians, leaving them no place to turn. Since then, the war has displaced approximately 4.2 million Syrians (World Vision). This diaspora threatens to become the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. The United States has done its part to help the Syrian refugees.  Since 2011, the United States has provided asylum to only approximately 0.0005 percent or 2,290 of all Syrian refugees (Bremmer, Ian).

Under pressure from European countries, President Obama recently raised the number of Syrians who may be granted asylum from 2,000 to 10,000 this fiscal year (Park, Hayoun). Syrians accounted for only two percent of the 70,000 refugees admitted in the U.S this last fiscal year (Park, Haeyoun). However, these numbers pale in comparison to the numbers admitted by other countries. As an example, since 2012, Germany has admitted 92,991 refugees (Park, Haeyoun).

Obama’s attempts to aid the refugees have been diminished by concerns of national security The terrorist attacks on Paris have added the more to the already-intense, global debate.  The attacks occurred on the evening of November 13, 2015, terrorists carried out a series of violent attacks killing 130 people in the streets of Paris, France ( “Paris Terror Attacks”).  French authorities later determined the attacks were executed by Syrian refugees.

In the wake of the attack, the French government has, nonetheless, kept its promise to allow 30,000 refugees legal status in the next two years (Tharoor, Ishaan).  The French President, Francois Hollande, says it is France’s “humanitarian duty” to honor its commitment to the refugees (Tharoor, Ishaan).

The additional refugees that will be granted asylum in the United States will come from 18,000 referrals sent by the United Nations. According to State department officials, more than half of these 18,000 refugees are injured children (Park Haeyoun) who have missed years of schooling and witnessed unspeakable violence and brutality (World Vision). Some also faced forceful recruitment by warring parties to serve as fighters or human shields (World Vision). Some United States Presidential candidates voiced their opinions prior to the Paris attacks  about the risks of granting Syrians asylum in the U.S.  Rather, than prompting the candidates to support acceptance of more Syrian refugees, the attacks accomplished the opposite:  the candidates became even more leery of Syrian refugees.  All the  Republican candidates oppose Obama’s plan to increase the number of Syrians granted asylum in the U.S.( Kaplan, Thomas).  In particular, candidate Donald Trump took a strong and angry stance stating, “If Obama, through his weakness, lets them come in, I’m sending them out if I win”( Kaplan, Thomas).

The Democratic candidates have expressed the opposite perspective and fully support Obama’s proposal. Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, claims she would grant even more refugees legal status. “I said we should go to 65” — meaning 65,000 refugees — “but only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine”, she said on November 12, 2015 (Kaplan, Thomas).

In addition, more than half of the nation’s governors have spoken out against allowing refugees into their states (Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield). All but one are Republican governors. For most, the concern is one of national security after the attacks on Paris. Alabama governor, Robert Bentley, vociferously rejected Obama’s plan saying, “As your governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way” (Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield).

However, the final decision is not in the hands of the individual states.  Professor Stephen I. Vladeck of American University said,  “Legally, states have no authority to do anything because the question of who should be allowed in this country is one that the Constitution commits to the federal government” (Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield).  Although, he says, the cooperation from the states is necessary to complete the task. “So a state can’t say it is legally objecting, but it can refuse to cooperate, which makes things much more difficult.” (Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield).

President Obama however, does not intend to give up the fight for the refugees. “We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said. “We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”(Liptak, Kevin, and Jim Acosta).  Nonetheless, the future of the refugees is still unclear.


Works Cited

Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield. “Syrian Refugees Not Welcome in 31 U.S. States –” CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

Park, Haeyoun. “Paris Attacks Intensify Debate Over How Many Syrian Refugees to Allow Into the U.S.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

“What You Need to Know: Crisis in Syria, Refugees, and the Impact on Children.” World Vision. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield. “Syrian Refugees Not Welcome in 31 U.S. States –” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

Kaplan, Thomas, and Wilson Andrews. “Presidential Candidates on Allowing Syrian Refugees in the United States.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

“Paris Terror Attacks –” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

Liptak, Kevin, and Jim Acosta. “Barack Obama Slams GOP over Refugee Stance –” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.


Let Them In or Send Them Home? by H.C.

War and the widespread growth of terrorism in Syria have been devastating to families who say they just want to live in peace.  The constant fear of death has forced over four million of them to leave their homes to take on long and dangerous journeys to other countries where they seek asylum.  Some unfortunately die during their escape, including by attempting dangerous crossing by sea in homemade boats, by unsuccessfully trying to board and stay on moving trains, or by the terrible conditions they face in temporary detention camps.  

Many counties are struggling to deal with the sheer number of migrants attempting to cross their borders.  Some of them are welcoming them, while others are turning them away or limiting the number who will gain entry.  All of these countries are faced with answering the same questions both internally to their citizens and externally to the rest of the world: should they take refugees or send them home, how do they determine whether a person seeking asylum is qualified to enter, and how many can they take without causing a burden on their own welfare systems and/or causing internal conflict.  If they decide to allow migration and determine the number, they must specifically determine how to screen them, house and feed them, and often they must make these difficult decisions while thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of refugees are waiting at their borders.    

In the article “Norway seeking to return some Syrian asylum seekers to Russia” (Solsvik and Fouche for Reuters, Oct 15, 2015), the authors report that according to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, 1,200 people have attempted to seek asylum in Norway from Syria in 2015, which is a huge increase over the dozen or so who asked for asylum in 2014.  The article states “the journey is a more roundabout, but legal, and safer, way to enter Europe than by crossing the Mediterranean”.  


According to Reuters, many of the asylum seekers are in fact not at risk of being killed if they return to their home countries because, in fact, they are coming from Russia where they have lived for a long time and have the freedom to return.  The article states that Justice Minister Anders Anundsen of the anti-immigration party, told public broadcaster NRK “they have had a safe place to be in Russia. We have had a return agreement with Russia and we should use it,”

The article, “Why Don’t Gulf States Accept More Refugees?” (Bershidsky, Sept 4, 2015) discusses the reasons behind the apparent unwillingness of Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf countries, to accept Syrian refugees.  Regarding Saudi Arabia, the article states that while the country has in fact welcomed almost 500,000 Syrians to live in the country, there is no record that they are refugees.  Instead they could have migrated legally prior to the conflict in Syria.  Also, 500,000, while appearing to be a large number, is small compared with the total population of Saudi Arabia’s thirty-one million residents.  This number is also very low in comparison to Lebanon, which has allowed more than 1.3 million refugees into their borders, representing over a quarter of their population.  The article also addresses the fact that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also resisted allowing Syrian refugees to enter their country.  Instead they “prefer to pay to equip and maintain refugee camps in other countries, close to Syrian borders.”

Bershidsky explains that the reason for the actions of Saudia Arabia and the UAE are that a majority of the Syrians seeking asylum are Sunni Muslims. While the Saudi population is also predominantly Sunni, “many Sunni areas of Syria have served as a base for the Islamic State, which the Saudi and U.A.E. air forces are helping to bomb. The Islamic State is hostile to the Saudi regime, and it’s important to them whether the refugees are fleeing Islamic State or the bombings.”  In other words, they want to make sure that they are not welcoming their enemy into their borders.  Egypt has also been concerned that Syrians entering their country have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is their enemy.  As such, Egypt has limited entry to Syrians as well as deported some of them.


The article also discusses that in Lebanon and Turkey where Syrian refugees have been granted asylum, there have been conflicts, resentment, fear and the potential for violence among various other religious groups and the Syrians.  In some cases, Syrian refugees have been relocated to other parts of the country to avoid conflict.

After explaining the difficulties with relocating Syrians in the Gulf countries, the author argues that it makes more sense for the refugees to be welcomed into European countries as well as the United States where they would make up a very small percentage of the existing population.  The author then unbelievably states, “jihadists posing as migrants might, of course, conduct terrorist attacks, but that risk exists without refugees.”  Finally, Bershidsky claims that the humanitarian policies of the West, as well as a more even distribution of wealth, have a “calming effect” on immigration as compared with asking refugees to live in countries where “their presence could turn an unsteady equilibrium into chaos”. He concludes his article by stating that the United States and Europe should not use the Gulf state’s resistance to allowing Syrian migration as an excuse to also limit the number of refugees these countries take.  

In “Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants” (Editorial Board of the New York Times, Sept 3, 2015), the author discusses Australia’s policies toward asylum seekers, which include sending the navy to intercept boats filled with refugees and making them turn back to wherever they sailed from.  The article states that those who are not turned away from the borders are kept in poorly maintained detention centers run by private contractor on nearby islands. An “Australian Senate committee portrayed the Nauru center as a purgatory where children are sexually abused, guards give detainees marijuana in exchange for sex and some asylum seekers are so desperate that they stitch their lips shut in an act of protest.” The Editorial Staff asserts that instead of fixing the detention center problems, they have tried to hide the problems, including by threatening criminal prosecution for speaking publicly about the conditions.


The editorial concludes by stating that refugees will naturally seek to rebuild their lives in countries that are prosperous and “it is inexcusable that some find themselves today in situations that are more hopeless and degrading than the ones that prompted them to flee.”

These articles may be compared and contrasted in many ways. For example, all of the articles point out the complexity of the refugee problem and, in particular, the incredibly difficult decisions the governments need to make in deciding how to handle requests for asylum from so many people that are showing up at their borders. While the article, “Norway seeking to return some Syrian asylum seekers to Russia” is very factual about the situation that exists in Norway without making any opinions or recommendations, both the articles, “Why Don’t Gulf States Accept More Refugees?” and the “Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants” seek to make a point about how other countries need to do more or just do better.  The Norway article and the Australia article are also similar in that they both discuss their country’s decision to turn away refugees, although for different reasons.

In my opinion, while it is the responsibility of a civilized society to provide help and assistance to our fellow man when they are in need, especially when fleeing a country where there is a strong possibility of death, countries have the right to limit the number of immigrants they allow into their borders for a number of reasons, including national security, social and logistical reasons.  Additionally, only those refugees who are truly at risk of death in their own country should be allowed to enter a country and be given food, shelter, medicine and other services and countries should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the process of determining who deserves to enter the country are followed, even if it means taking time to evaluate each person and situation.  



Works Cited

“Norway seeking to return some Syrian asylum seekers to Russia” (Solsvik and Fouche for Reuters, Oct 15, 2015)

“Why Don’t Gulf States Accept More Refugees?” (Bershidsky, Sept 4, 2015)

“Australia’s Brutal Treatment of Migrants” (Editorial Board of the New York Times, Sept 3, 2015)

Are More Gun Laws Necessary? by J.L.

The gun law topic has been debated and contemplated for quite some time now, even getting the President’s attention with the more recent college shooting in Oregon. Many are thinking about how to get more gun away from criminals with stricter laws when most criminals don’t care about the law at hand, what we should really be doing is getting more surrounding laws protecting us from other people. We also need to rethink  The new gun laws won’t protect us from criminals and they affect more of the population. The new gun laws might decrease the amount of gun crimes but it won’t ever stop the crimes from continuing. What we need to look at is the cases of normal people doing these actions and not showing any signs before doing the said action, these types of cases have been more frequent and more common in the community around the U.S.A.

Gun laws should be regulating the people who don’t have guns but are able to buy them, they need to be stricter and more regulated. look at the more recent case of a shooting from the Oregon community college. The shooter was a student at the college, and he was taking english and theater classes and even started the shooting in one of his english classes starting with the teacher. We don’t know too much about the shooter like medical records, what he was like in school but we know he was able to obtain the guns easily. “All the guns were legally obtained by the shooter or family members over the last three years.” The 13 different guns found at the college all were obtained by a licensed federal firearms dealer. The shooter singled out christians even asking them to stand up and saying to them, “you’re going to see god in just about a second.” The motive behind doing this is unknown and we will never know the answer since the shooter was killed in a gunfight with the police.

After the Oregon shooting Obama decided to throw in his hat into the argument of gun control. He said that, “Each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough.” and that we need more gun legislation in a speech at the White House. Obama’s speech is fully written down and it talks about many different things about gun control and how these mass shootings have become more of a routine to say we need more gun control.Obama has since been working on more gun control but it’s hard to make significant progress on this widely debated topic.

How about in Chicago where two kids found a gun and the gun accidentally went off hospitalizing one of the kids. These two kids found a gun in their house in a neighborhood at the city’s west side. after this smaller shooting police are trying to find the father of the child with the gun who is said to be on Parole. That was the most recent shooting with many more that have happened earlier with all these different gun shootings being the most Chicago has ever experienced before. The city has since had 205 different incidents in 28 days according to the more recent police statistics. The shootings with the two children was only days after a different shooting killed a 9 year old kid. The easy access to the guns has made it easier for these types of actions to happen.

The last example I am going to bring up has happened Wednesday December the 3rd a mass shooting happened killing 14 and injuring 21. This is considered a mass shooting and this will be my last example using a mass shooting to prove my point. The shooting happened in a government building at 11 am with the killer still not found yet. We will never know the reason behind his actions until we actually find him. President Obama made another speech after the events of this shooting arguing, “The shooting was possible related to terrorism but might also be workplace related.” All the guns were bought legally from an arms dealer and even had the said owner of the shop deny all accounts that they sold guns to the shooter. This is still under investigation on his motive but what Investigators are saying is, “It’s possible that some combination of motivation involving both a workplace dispute and terrorism prompting the shooting,” More and more updates are getting posted to different websites talking about the people affected by this shooting and the people even killed in the shooting. Diving into their background and what type of person they were.

Gun laws have always been aimed at stopping these massive shootings over the recent years which it should but we still need stricter gun laws regarding individuals that don’t look like a criminal or won’t normally act like one. Some of the more recent shootings have been done by people that are known as quieter people. We can’t always be looking into these said laws stopping criminal behavior but more into will it stop just normal people from doing these types of actions. The gun control laws should be stricter on background checking people and checking their medical records trying to find anything that could look, different and making the gun dealer make an educated decision on if he wants to sell the person a gun or not. The prolonged fact that we haven’t really been dealing with this issue has to come to an end and we need to start standing up for this change. Over the past year we have had over 200 different shootings happen in America, with more on the way if we don’t change and fix our gun policy.



Works Cited

The Washington Post. “The need for sensible gun control is becoming even more apparent.” Washington Post, The Apr. 0008: Newspaper Source. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

Guest, Steve. “Obama: We Need More Gun Control [VIDEO].” N.p., 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

Sidner, Sara, Kyung Lah, Steve Almasy, and Ralph Ellis. “Oregon Shooting: Gunman a

Student at Umpqua Community College –” CNN. Cable News Network, 2 Oct. 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

Holt, Mytheos. “Do Strict Gun Laws Really Stop Gun Crime?” The Blaze. N.p., 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

Hansen, Matt. “11 Shot, including 3-year-old Boy, as Chicago Gun Violence Worsens.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 23 Aug. 2014. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

“San Bernardino Shooting Live Updates: Details about the Dead Emerge, and Communities Mourn.” LA Times. Los Angeles Times, 3 Dec. 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.