This is our weekly post highlighting refugee’s stories and what it is like for them to live in America. It is important to know the stories of refugees and to better understand them before making decision on policy around them. Watch this short video of refugees telling their stories of living in America.
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.
An ethical decision broadly, is any decision that affects other people. These ethical decisions are made on a persons or community’s morals. There are many morals that throughout history have been accepted as almost universal. Not taking life, being generous, being honest, and many more. There are also some that have become more accepted and universal in modern times for example that the natural resources of this planet should be protected and preserved. Though every individual and community will have most of these morals they will also have morals that are more specific to them. This specific set of morals that a community or individual has, is what guides their way of life. There are two things that must be thought of, does america’s decision on how to act on the refugee crisis have ethical implications and if so how does america’s specific set of morals apply.
What is an ethical implication? When you go to the grocery store and are in the dairy aisle trying to decide which whether to chose 2% or 1% does not have ethical implications. Now if you are in the same scenario and are choosing between milk that comes from a source that uses sustainable farming practices or one that does not then that decision does have ethical implications. It is important to realize that when looking at decision that your personal morals do not effect if something has ethical implications. The moral that one should protect the planet and it’s resources may not be in your specific set of morals at all and you may think this is important but the milk decision would still have ethical implications since it is affecting other peoples lives. Both sides of an issue tend to only see the implications that support their stances on an issue. So what are the ethical implications of the possible decisions on the refugee crisis? One ethical implication that the anti-refugee supporters tend to highlight is the fact the refugees could possibly endanger the lives of the community that accepts them. Though this risk is very small it is important to look at all ethical implications. Another implication that anti-refugee supporters highlight is that accepting refugees can hurt the economy and put a burden on social services making it harder for the community to take care of itself. The next implication that I want to highlight is hard for people to understand in america since this kind of situation is foreign to so many of us. That is why to show the ethical implications of leaving the refugees in the current location I am going to show you a video of what the refugees in Syria are fleeing from, though this video is important to see it is also highly graphic and may disturbing for some readers.
So it is pretty clear that there are the large ethical implications for america’s decision on how to respond to the refugee crisis. Then the question is what morals among America’s set of morals apply to this decision and how? Our founding father declared that one of the foundational morals that our country was founded on was that all people have a right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. One of the first European groups that came to america was the pilgrims. They were fleeing a government that was restricting these right so they fled to a new place.
There is no way to look at this without seeing that in the founding of america there was this established moral the people have right to flee from harm to a new place an better life. 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. America was not founded on the belief that all american citizens are equal but that all men are equal. There have been times that america has ignored this core moral in order to help them selves or what they perceive as the greater good. Two of the worst examples were america forgot this core belief and either put economic prosperity or community safety (as they perceived it) before this core belief was the trails of tears and other interactions indigenous peoples and slavery. History has not looked kindly on these times were america has forgotten this founding moral that it was founded on. By this core moral, america has a moral obligation to help these refugees and to do so even at if it costs america. If this is still the core of american morality then this is the only option.
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.
I am so glad you have chosen to look at our blog. We will try to show how America can and should be doing more to address the current global refugee crisis. That to stay true to America’s vales this is the only course of action. I live in an area were there are lost of refugees living and have gotten to see there personal side of the issue and have been moved to try to as much as I can to help improve the situation through my actions and changing other peoples opinions of refugees. I studied Persian in college and have worked recently in both Arabic and Persian studies creating a personal connection to the areas that are currently seeing the greatest refugee creation. I hope by reading this blog we are able to help you understand more about the refugees and the current crisis.
I support refugees in America because these people need our help. No matter what country they are coming from they are seeking an escape from a place that is unbearable. What people fail to see is that refugees do not necessarily want to leave and come to America; they are different from immigrants seeking a better life. Refugees are people that were forced to leave their homes because it was no longer safe to live. It is our job as a free nation to help these people to feel safe when they have been ostracized.
A couple weeks ago I went to the Newseum in Washington D.C. There is a new exhibit there with photographs of refugees from all over the world. the photos captured different points in the people’s journeys such as along the way, arriving at their destination, plain pictures of their faces and narratives about the people. These pictures helped me to see the struggles they are going through and the courage that it takes to leave their homes and seek salvation. We should be doing whatever we can to make this hardship just a little bit easier for them.