Andrew G. Utah

The Cost of Your Life

When it comes to the largest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, America isn't playing it's part.

In Thomas Jefferson’s famous document, the Declaration of Independence, he wrote of three unalienable rights that all human beings have. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, we strongly believe in these rights for everyone, not just ourselves. So why aren’t we doing all we can to help others achieve these same rights? There are millions of refugees right now who live in constant fear, after being forced to flee their homes and countries due to political conflict or terrorism. These refugees don’t currently have the “unalienable rights” mentioned by Thomas Jefferson. One cannot truly live their life while running for fear they might lose it. It is our responsibility to help these refugees claim the rights they deserve. We need to give them homes and protection by admitting them safely into America. Of course, letting refugees into our country can be dangerous. There’s a possibility that they could be the very terrorists they say they’re running from. This is why we have a screening, or vetting, process. It’s a thorough background check to ensure the person being allowed into America has no ties to terrorism or violent tendencies that could potentially harm citizens. This is the only safe way to allow a refugee into the United States. In order to increase the amount of refugees we can give aid to, America needs to increase the amount of money and time we spend on the screening process.

But when it comes to helping refugees, America is not doing it’s part. As the third largest country in the world, we should have admitted way more refugees by now. President Obama’s plan to introduce 10,000 refugees succeeded, but compared to the 2.5 million refugees in countries such as Turkey and Pakistan, we have a very small number. This can largely be attributed to the same screening process that keeps us citizens safe. It takes time and effort to confirm that a refugee is safe, and we obviously can’t risk taking away screening. The safety of American citizens is important as well. The solution would be increasing the amount of resources we invest into the screening process, which will in turn increase the help we can give refugees while keeping American citizens safe. I don’t claim to know the exact amount we spend on vetting refugees, but a human life is priceless, and we should do what we can to help.

Many people are still concerned for the safety and cost of vetting refugees. However, research and statistics show there is no need to worry. Kathleen Newland, co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute, found that only 3 out of the 784,000 refugees admitted since the attacks on November 11, 2001 have been linked with terrorism in any way. That’s a little over .000003% of refugees that have been admitted. The screening process is a very safe way to help identify a possible threat. An Economic professor showed the benefits of these refugees in his article “For Good or Ill,” written late January. At first glance, these refugees seem to be a waste of money. They need to be provided with welfare, and increasing the number of refugees we receive will only require more funding. What many people don’t understand is that the refugees have a desire to succeed in their new lives. A young refugee, Seham Alomar, came from Syria, and has since been trying her hardest to succeed in school and learn English so she can have a better life here in America. This is the same for many refugees. They’re like a long term investment. At first, they rely on welfare until they can get some solid ground. After the refugees gain some footing, they will continue to learn and fill the jobs that many Americans won’t do, and overall, benefit our economy.

It all boils down to the screening process. We aren’t going to lower the standard to admit refugees quicker, so we have to raise the funding instead. If America makes the vetting process a larger priority in our lives, than we will have the ability to share this great country with others who can benefit. You can’t put a price tag on human life, but that’s exactly what we’re doing if we refuse to spend some extra money for these refugees. Give the refugees a life, and let them pursue their happiness, their goals, and their dreams. Show the world, and more importantly, the refugees that America cares.

Spanish Fork High School

AP Language 16-17

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