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.


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.


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.


More than a Drain on the Economy

Many individuals argue that refugees pose a threat to the American economy, claiming that they only absorb resources and are not contributors. Watch as this family tells their story about making a living and think about the stimulation they cause in the economy.

Refugees show an incredible amount of resilience and in the face of hardship, find many ways to continue to support their families. Despite facing many barriers to success, this family has managed to grow a business which supports their family and their surrounding community. Many myths are perpetuated in the fear mongering around accepting refugees. Talk of refugees being a drain on U.S. resources is often core to discussion. However, this family demonstrates that refugees do not intend to merely accept help. Refugees look for the structure that they have lost from being displaced and realize that they need to find new ways to subsist. The robust U.S. economy is not just drained from refugees but it is bolstered by their activity in the market.


Privileged Anti-Refugee Sentiment?

Anti-refugee are highly prevalent yet it is incredibly difficult to find individuals willing to articulate the sentiments overly on the internet. Americans, by 60% to 37%, oppose plans for the U.S. to take in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees who are trying to escape the civil war in their country according to a Gallup poll. Additionally, the current president ran on the premise that he was going to strictly prohibit refugees from entering the United States. Therefore, many individuals clearly share the idea that refugees should not be resettled in the United States.


Mary Doetsch argues in an opinion article that, “Despite claims of enhanced vetting, the reality is that it is virtually impossible to vet an individual who has no type of an official record, particularly in countries compromised by terrorism.” Though Doetsch may technically be correct about the reality of the vetting process, the actual reality is that this is a structural vulnerability faced by refugees, not a tool that they access at their convenience.


Doetsch argues in the same article that, “Nonetheless, during the past decade and specifically under the Obama administration, the Refugee Admissions Program continued to expand blindly, seemingly without concern for security or whether it served the best interests of its own citizens.” Though the program to resettle refugees may have expanded very rapidly and perhaps suffered some consequences from that situation, the fact remains that the United States is fulfilling its duty to international citizens.

In his article, Matthew Osnowitz argues that, “Just because we are not morally obligated to accept the Syrian refugees does not mean that we should not let the refugees into the country.” Ultimately, Osnowitz reaches the conclusion that the United States does not have a moral obligation to let refugees into its borders because there are ostensibly other countries which have opened their doors to them. However, the United States does have the resources and capacity to resettle refugees and doing so would be more beneficial than detrimental. Though Doetsch argues that refugees policy is not tight enough, she fails to consider the fact that the United States should be trying its hardest to view the situation from those who are in vulnerable positions of suffering as opposed to privileged views.vlad-tchompalov-219131.jpg


Resettlement is for the Best

The United States tends to have an unspoken policy where more refugees and asylees are permitted to remain within U.S. borders so long as their country of origin has ideologies which disagree with the United States’. In that case, why is the United States choosing to take so many less refugees?

Many argue that the United States simply does not have the resources to resettle the sheer amount of refugees who have fled their home countries. However, those individuals fail to remember that refugees are not incapable of being great additions to the American economy. According to the Washington Post, in one case, “over the course of a decade, refugees created at least 38 new businesses in the Cleveland area alone.”


While it is difficult for refugees to resettle and find jobs in their new environments, the process would be expedited if U.S. policy were more lenient. Refugees lose their families and their networks are decimated in the horrors of fleeing persecution. When refugees resettle, they often do not know people in the area and therefore, cannot tap their networks for resources. On top of the burden of culture shock and loneliness, refugees are forced to go through many screening services. The screening services that refugees endure often have many flaws including language barriers causing refugees more stress. America’s duty is to be a firm but welcoming host to individuals who have fled countries terrorizing their own people.

Making the vetting process better adapted to the needs of refugees would improve their resettlement process remarkably.

America does have a status to uphold but its consistently boasts itself as one of the greatest and most powerful countries. The United States are leaders and need to set an example for other countries, particularly if the United States is to expect other countries to help in the refugee crisis. After all, if the U.S. is to brag about being the land of the free, they must do their part in protecting the freedoms of all individuals, especially those who are in dire need because they face persecution.


Maeline Yang

Maeline is an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park with a major in Anthropology and a minor in Entrepreneurship. With a focus on Sociocultural Anthropology, many of Maeline’s courses have been centered on immigration issues. Through this blog, Maeline hopes to inform people on the many issues around refugees using her insight on cultural studies. Maeline also aims to inspire people to create change in their communities to help welcome and support individuals who have been forced to flee their countries.