(Originally published 11/29/2015)
A refugee is not an immigrant. With some 10,000 Syrian refugees arriving in America and more to come, I’m going to use my little corner of the world to advocate for their arrival.
An immigrant is someone who has looked at their surroundings and decided, “I’d like to live somewhere else.” Modern immigration to America is, unfortunately, dominated by questions surrounding how to deal with illegal immigrants, who’ve come primarily from Mexico. Sadly, this prevents reasonable debate, as there are too many on both sides concerned more with the color of the skin of those arriving above all else. A country deciding on who, how many, and wherefrom immigrants arrive is a legitimate concern. And a nation must turn away some who wish to relocate simply because borders, by definition, make a country!
Refugees do not fit into the above category. At all. Yes, many immigrants who come to America do so because their current home sucks. No offense, Mexico but … c’mon. The homeland of refugees always sucks too but with a different twist: there’s an imminent threat of death to their not leaving.
This map, courtesy of I believe Time, crystallizes everything:
Note that this is not a case where refugees are leaving for a better place – they’re leaving for any place that is not Syria. They aren’t all moving to one country over another, they’re going to them all. Sure, all things being equal, I’m guessing they’d rather live in Germany than Egypt but look at where they’re going: everywhere. Things in Syria are so bad that people are leaving there to move to Iraq. IRAQ! Over a quarter of a million people think that Iraq is a better place to live than where they’re at currently.
This problem has been, and will in all likelihood continue to be, one for Europeans. It’s just easier to get to Europe from Syria than it is America. (And the rest of the world says Americans don’t know our geography!) But to the extent that America can help, it must. Every single Syrian refugee that America can possibly take in, she must.
This is not to downplay the concerns of a large mass of people from an area of the world rife with terrorism coming to a country. It appears on some level that the recent attacks on France were helped in some way by the crisis. The Boston bombers initially came to America on a Visa before applying for refugee status and asylum. Moreover, it doesn’t take a genius to see how a terrorist cell would easily take advantage of a mass migration of people to blend in. Even if it had never happened, it’s easy to see why it might happen in the future.
This is where I get to take the easy way out and say I simply do not know how to deal with those very legitimate security threats. Maybe it means that we take people in, build up little communities, and house them there. Yes, that sounds like the internment camps that Japanese-Americans suffered through during World War 2. So be it. At least those arriving would inevitably safer than living in the midst of the bloodbath that is Syria.
More than that, it can be seen as a simple math equation. A=the total number of Syrian refugees that will come to the United States. B=the number that will be terrorists. C=the number of Americans that will die as a result of a successful terrorist attack (C includes the economic impact those Americans would have made – how much does an economy and society lose from the death of 1000 people, for instance). D is the impact on the economy and society that the refugees (A) will make. If A is greater than C, then we open the flood gates. If it isn’t, we figure out the statistical relation needed to make A greater than C. There’s more math involved, obviously, but for a guy who can’t do math, that’s my “objective” idea.
Heck, America can even take in refugees with the understanding that this is temporary and that once Syria normalizes (that … might take a while) then we ship them back. Whatever the final choice is, at the end of the day: we’re the good guys and good guys protect innocent people. And America? We’re the ultimate good guys to immigrants. Europeans are defined by history, tradition, dumb wars, incestuous bloodlines, and all kinds of crap. America? The literal land of the immigrants. A tip of the hat to those in Europe who have opened their doors to those who are suffering. America should join you sooner rather than later.