Final Summary

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

For the past 4 weeks, Maeline, Melannie, Elijah, and myself have discussed and made arguments in favor of more refugees to be allowed in to the United States.  We had touched on a different topic every week: policy, ethics, economics, and trauma.  Now speaking for myself, I had found every week to be a bit tougher than the last to refute the idea that we should not allow these fellow human beings to find a safe haven in this country.

In terms of policy, Melannie made the argument that President Trumps travel ban might have been effective if it had actually provided the US with more security, instead of focusing on keeping fleeing refugees out of the United States,

The catch with this order is that none of this does anything for the United States’ national security.

There have been zero terrorist attacks by immigrants from any of these countries.

From an ethical standpoint, Elijah had argued that the decision to try and ban refugees from fleeing in to the United States went against our moral and ethical obligations to accept our fellow man in to the country and give them the safety they seek,

Through the years America has reinforced this moral that it must accept people from other places. This can be seen when america accepted millions of Irish during the Irish potato famine, people believed at the time that it would hurt the economy or have other adverse affects but still the refugees were accepted. That is because it is the only logical conclusion, if it is put forth that the core moral of america is that all men are created equal and that because of that they have a right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Economically, Maeline refers to a video which shows a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan where over 3,000 business have sprung up, including super markets and garden shops.  Imagine the possibilities in the United States for this kind of drive and focus.

 

My last post for our topic on trauma focused on PTSD and the innocent children who were witnesses to the war up close and personal.  I read about the wonderful group of people in Lebanon who were using the power of art to rehabilitate and give these kids a chance to be kids again.

And I think that is who we should really think about.  Children who did not ask to be born on this planet but who must deal with the environment and the situations surrounding their environment.  Fleeing war and death is something I can only read and hear about from the comfort of a smart phone or television, let us give these children and their families the opportunity to experience life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Miscellaneous

Chopped Heads and Army Tanks

[Some] children who’ve recently arrived in Lebanon from Syria very quickly begin to draw images of chopped heads and the army tanks coming closer – very graphic images for a child to have seen…

Having only witnessed war through the power of the internet, I consider myself quite lucky to be where I sit.  Unfortunately, the luck of the draw was not so kind to the innocent children currently smack dab in the middle of a civil war.

So how are these children dealing with the trauma of witnessing terrible acts of war?  One strategy that has been adopted and carried out by some incredible folks in Lebanon is art therapy.  Art therapists have found an effective tool in their arsenal to help children combat the dramatic after effects that have resulted from witnessing and experiencing these traumatic events.

Art therapist Dania Fawaz tells Al Jazeera,

“A lot of children, especially the younger ones, haven’t developed the verbal skills they need to describe such horrific events, especially if you’re speaking about war. Art is a less directive and more natural tool for children to express themselves.

colorphoto(Dania Fawaz)

One 12 year old boy; who had the horrible luck of living under ISIS, expressed himself by drawing images of the war.  This was normal in the beginning and as the time passed, the drawings had contained much less gore, and more happier memories of friends and family.

Founder and director Myra Saad of Artichoke Studio in Beirut has set her sights on a primary goal:  let the kids be kids again.  Through art therapy, the children can slowly open up to the adults at their own pace, through the power of the pencil.  In this case, the pen(cil) is mightier than the sword.

“No matter how long the treatment, Saad said, it is important to leave patients with a message of hope.

Fawaz sees forward progress being made with her art therapy and the world is that much of a better place to be with these folks here.

“…[Others] have lived through a lot and all they want to draw is rainbows and flowers, and this is what they need.”

Affirmative

Mental and Emotional Need of Refugees

In American politics it is common to discuss refugees as if they are just other immigrants. This ignores the fact that refugees have gone through some of the worst trauma a human can imagine. Refugees are not coming because they are looking for something better but because they are fleeing something horrible.

AP Greece Migrants

The lifetime prevalence for PTSD in the U.S. is only 3.6% for males and 9.1% for females but for refugees the number is 37%. To put these numbers into perspective, the problems with PTSD in soldiers coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq has become a national issue, but only 13.8% experienced PTSD compared to the 37% for refugees. If we go back farther the Vietnam war is know as one of the most brutal modern wars and caused massive mental health problems in the veterans that returned. The percentage of veterans that served in Vietnam that experienced PTSD was only 30%. It is important to also remember when looking at these numbers a large portion of them are children that we can not expect to be able to handle PTSD and the trauma that created it.

Refugees not only have a high rate of PTSD due to the trauma that they have experienced but they do not have access to normal support systems like other people do. In the soldiers’ examples they go home and are able to use their family, community, and other support structures in the home. Refugees have left all of that behind. They are in a foreign land with a different culture and no societal connection to where they are. Below is a diagram that illustrates how refugees have a difficult time integrating with a host nation due to the trauma they have experienced. It also shows how, even if they are able to identify with a minority subset of the host nation’s culture, this too can cause problems.

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What does this mean for how the conversations in politics and policies around refugees needs to change? It needs to start with everyone from politicians to everyday citizens understanding that refugees are unique from all other people trying to enter our country and must be treated differently. Politicians must work to put in support structures that are able to give the extra assistance that refugees will need. Every one of us as U.S. citizens must lobby our politicians to make sure they are giving refugees the adequate support that they need, and we must all learn how we can help the refugees that are around us through this trauma that they have experienced. Visit refugee.org or a local refugee support organization to learn how you can get involved.

Refutation

XY-Einzelfall and the Aftermath

Last year a map circulated around social media in Germany via a Facebook page. The map claimed to show the amount of migrant and refugee crime in the country.

Titled “XY-Einzelfall” with a play on the fact that all the crimes shown on the map were considered “isolated crimes” (Einzelfall in German), people were outraged by the facts that Chancellor Angela Merkel was hiding from them.

After an investigation by Germany’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism it was revealed that the map was fake.

One of the main faults in the map was the way the creator sited refugees. In the map, virtually any crime committed by someone who a witnessed described as dark-skinned was then classified as a refugee or migrant for the purpose of the map. The true definition of the two were not used in the algorithm.

Additionally, the site used crime stories for its statistics that were already said to be fake. A news site Bild published an article about a New Year’s Eve attack by migrants in Frankfurt which turned out to be false. This was used in the map.

While it should have been clear that the map was fake, people that are against refugees to begin with ate up the fact that this map proved their thoughts correct. In this video a man discusses his thoughts about the map.

 

The creators of the map claimed that 84% of crime in Germany is from migrants when in fact it is actually only 13%. Remembering that the way the creators classified a refugee to begin with is inaccurate, all the data on this map is wrong.

In my opinion it is not so much that the refugees are prone to create crime, but it is more so that when there are 2 million more people in an area it is unrealistic to think that there won’t be a notable increase in crime. People are more likely to blame the increase on the refugees because that is the only thing that changed. It does not mean that all the additional crimes are committed by refugees.

 

Miscellaneous

PTSD and Refugees

According to the National Center for PTSD, refugees suffer from the same ailments our soldiers experience while on active-duty.

“Prior to flight, individuals who become refugees may face a wide variety of traumatic events. They may witness fighting and destruction, observe violent acts perpetrated against loved ones, or be subjected to or witness sexual violence”

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Certainly the travel to a new world is enough for most to be exhausted when that travel could be your least of worries.  For more information on common links between refugees and PTSD, click on this link and come back this week for our final graded submissions to the blog.

Miscellaneous

A Young Refugee Perspective

This short but powerful clip illustrates the unfortunate truth that generations to come have been scarred by the horrific actions in Syria. The impact of the tragedies in Syria affects international relations for many years to come and the fact is, the United States has to care. The mental health of children refugees needs greater attention in the media than the crimes committed by individual refugees. With the grave injustices experienced by refugees, it is a horror that the population is still painted as undesirable. Looking at the children in this video is a good start to examining the impact of being a refugee and a good way to fully appreciate the resources that need to be made available in resettling refugees.

Miscellaneous

The Importance of Mental Health

Here’s an informational video on the embodiment of trauma that refugees endure. Often times, the media may sensationalize refugee populations to the point where public opinion believes that refugees are barely human. By categorizing refugees into this villain like place, it is easy for the individual experiences of refugees to be completely ignored and overlooked. Therefore, the importance of telling the stories of refugees is crucial so that a population is not minimized. The mental trauma that refugees endure is extreme and highlighted well in this video, we encourage you to watch to gain a fuller understanding of the refugee experience.

Refutation

More Refugees!

Searching online, it is tough to find studies that support the idea that refugees have a negative impact on its host countries’ economy.  On Quora.com; a website which gives a platform for people to come together to ask and answer ‘questions that affect the world’, one user named Yannick Meyer answers the question,

What are the consequences, both negative and positive for Germany of accepting refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries?

lebanon

Looking at his answer, he cites no positive impacts for taking in refugees, makes claims about the negative economic, social, and political impacts but does not refer to any studies or sources to back up his claims.

We’ll stick just to his answer on the economic impacts. Yannick tells us that,

One of the major effects that refugees have on the host country is economic impact.

Yannick is correct.  Lebanon, for example has registered 1.1 million Syrian refugees as of March, 2015, the most refugees anywhere in the region.  It hasn’t seemed to negatively affect their GDP growth, which the World Bank predicted would grow 2.5 percent in 2015.  They also saw an estimated 2.0 percent growth in 2014 which was great compared to the 0.9 percent growth in 2013.

morelebanon

 

Yannick also states,

It is frequently thought that refugees are of little economic value…

Again, we can point to Lebanon, whom has registered the most refugees in the world. I quote,

“In fact, the inflow of refugees has arguably helped the Lebanese economy withstand the negative effect of its neighbor’s civil war.  Refugees have been an important source of demand for locally produced services in Lebanon, funded from own savings and labor income, from remittances of relatives abroad and from international aid.  In a recent World Bank report, we estimate that an additional 1 percent increase in Syrian refugees increases Lebanese service exports by 1.5 percent.

Our friends’ argument about negative economic impacts doesn’t seem to hold in the face of actual studies and numbers.  It is easy to rant and spew rhetoric without having to find actual numbers and studies to back up what you’re saying.  I highly encourage Yannick and anyone else to find any evidence or studies that support his claims and post them on this blog.

Reading and learning about the refugee crisis and how it has affected certain countries whom have given asylum to a large number of them, we should encourage our lawmakers and appointed public servants that the US expedite its admission to those fleeing war and persecution and maybe learn a little compassion from our friends over in Lebanon.

Miscellaneous

Refugees Revive Towns

Wow! Think about this the next time you’re eating Chobani yogurt for breakfast.

Many individuals fear that refugees pose a threat as they may refuse to integrate into the American culture. Individuals believe that the refugees will not see the United States president as their president and will not work to help the cities around them. However, this story about Utica illustrates that these beliefs are merely myths and that refugees are hardworking contributors to American society. After all, being a refugee is not easy because the vetting process is enormously grueling and resettling in a new community takes a long time. Refugees do not simply absorb resources but put back into the economy and improve the towns they resettle in and therefore, should be more welcomed.