Anna G. Pennsylvania

The Refugee Crisis

What kind of country are we if we can’t even live up to our own words? We have made America a nation of hypocrites, and we must raise the low standards we have set for ourselves.

Dear President;

I hope you are well, but millions aren’t. As I am sure you are aware, the refugee crisis isn’t labeled “crisis” just for fun. The Syrian Civil War has displaced 9-10 million people and over 250,000 have lost their lives (National Public Radio). On August 27, 2015, authorities discovered 71 bodies in an abandoned truck in Austria, they were Syrian refugees who suffocated while trying to reach western Europe. The next day a Libyan coast guard vessel discovered bodies off the coast of Libya after an overcrowded boat capsized, killing up to 200 refugees. Then early September, the drowned body of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian refugee, washed up on a Turkish beach. Alan's brother and mother had also drowned attempting to cross the Aegean Sea from Turkey to Greece on a 15-foot rubber raft. Now my question for you is, how many more stories like this will it take before America does something?

Now there is a huge difference between opening all borders for anyone to waltz in, and carefully allowing the migration of refugees, there is a crucial difference between a refugee and a migrant. The word "migrant," refers to a person who moves to "a state of which he or she is not a national," and all cases where the decision to migrate is taken freely by the individual concerned, for reasons of 'personal convenience' and without an intervention of an external compelling factor. Migrants are also usually considered to be people who journey, either within their own countries or abroad, without a specific destination, while immigrants are considered those who travel to a particular destination country to settle there.Refugees, by contrast, are people who are forced to leave their homes due to problems outside of their control, such as war or oppression. It should be to these refugees that we open our doors. On our very Statue of Liberty, the poem The New Colossus boldly states...

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" (Emma Lazarus)

What kind of country would we be if we had such a fiery exclamation our front doors, yet so blatantly ignore those very souls we claim to desire to save?

Many people who protest letting refugees in, point out Germany, which has been on the frontlines in the accepting of refugees. On New Year’s Eve, there were mass reports of sexual assaults, about 1,000 of which were possibly committed by refugees (The Washington Post). Some claim that we need to keep these kinds of people out of the states. This is, of course, a horrible crime and they deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest account of the law, however, Germany has accepted roughly one million refugees.(Ross Douthat) of those refugees .1% were involved in the crimes. It is crazy to negatively base our refugee acceptance on such a small percentage.

Critics also argue that there are certain social risks in introducing large numbers of foreigners to the states. "When America wants to, it has opened its doors to tens of thousands of refugees…and absorbed them effortlessly," Julia Ioffe argued in Foreign Policy in September 2015. Ioffe arrived at the United States as a child fleeing the brutality of the Soviet Union,"In fact,” she continued “you are likely the descendant of one of them yourself: people fleeing a potato famine or political unrest in 19th-century Europe, pogroms in the Russian empire, war in Asia, or genocide in Africa. In fact, you, like me, are the descendant of something far less grave than what Syrians are fleeing today." In the past, the United States has admitted far larger numbers of refugees. In 1979, it provided sanctuary to 111,000 Vietnamese refugees, and in 1980, it added another 207,000. Around the same time, the country took in more than 120,000 Cuban refugees during the Mariel boatlift, including around 80,000 in one month alone (The New York Times). Look at these refugees now, they have efficiently integrated into American culture and society, and the Syrians can do the same.

In 1941, in the midst of World War II, the U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his State of the Union Address, in which he outlined four essential freedoms to which all human beings are entitled: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. Roosevelt’s “Four Freedoms” were adopted by the United Allies (Human Rights) What kind of country are we if we can’t even live up to our own words? Especially those of FDR? We have made America a nation of hypocrites, and we must raise the low standards we have set for ourselves.

Wishing you well,

Anna G.

Lower Dauphin High School

Mrs. Morgret's 9th grade Honors English students

Periods 4 and 5/6 from Lower Dauphin High School

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