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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is a common idea throughout the United States that when immigrants or refugees come to the United States they are stealing jobs from Americans. This has been a dilemma for Americans for years and a fear that President Trump ran his campaign on.
People are convinced that accepting refugees into the US means Americans will not have jobs and as a result the economy will suffer. In the numbers that have been calculated it seems that while this assumption may be true it has little to no impact on the US or any other country’s overall economy.
In the town of Utica, New York the acceptance of refugees has helped to lift it out of an economic decline. Utica claims to love refugees and how they have contributed to their community.
According to economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a senior UN advisor, refugees are a net positive for the economy of the United States.
there are gains when people come, add to the labor market, add skills and generally, earn less than what they can contribute to the society as a whole. – Sachs
In the simplest terms by having more people in the US there is an increase in purchases. therefore more money is going into the economy. Refugees are engaging in the economy of their host countries in order to improve their circumstances and succeed in the new chapter of their lives.
People should be more interested in the fact that it is our humanitarian right to save these people from the civil wars they are so badly suffering from. In 2015 Martin O’Malley claimed “Accommodating sixty-five thousand refugees in our country . . . of three hundred and twenty million is akin to making room for six and a half more people in a baseball stadium with thirty-two thousand.”
The countries bordering Syria have taken in more refugees than any others. With much smaller economies than the United States it would make sense that these companies economies would be suffering, however this is not the case.
The Turkish economy has expanded 2-3 percent in the past two years and Lebanon and Jordan are seeing improvements in their economies as well. There is little proof to show that accepting more refugees into the United States would negatively affect 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.
Take a look at this short video about one family’s adaption to the United States.
After having to leave Syria in 2012, they then moved to Jordan. Unfortunately, refugees are not allowed to work in Jordan and so they were losing money fast.
Then they learned that they were being resettle to the US in Rockford, Illinois. After an extensive two year process, they were finally able to come to the US. The family was overjoyed being as none of them have ever been to the United States before. “We hope that we do not disappoint you.” they said referring to Americans.
Although there have been difficulties adapting to life in the US such as transportation, language, shopping and learning how to use their appliances the family is doing well. All the children are in school, the whole family is learning English and the father Mufak, will soon have a job.
There is no reason to believe that refugees and Americans cannot live in harmony. Culture is not something that is set in stone. As can be seen with this family it is possible for refugees to learn and adapt to our lifestyle and in turn we could learn from them as well. Too often are refugees seen as threats when in reality most are families just like ours trying to live the happiest and safest lives they can.
One of the family members said that what he loved most about being in America is our laws. He loved the freedom and he loved the ability to be protected by our laws. It is things like this that we tend to take for granted. We forget that there are people that cannot do virtually whatever they would like as we can.
It is important to remember that there are families like this one out there that need our help. We should be providing assistance and love to them, what they are doing is not easy.
At the end of the video the narrator days “We contain multitudes which has always strengthened us.” This quotes reminds me of our country’s motto e pluribus unum or out of many, one. We are stronger and better when we join forces, there is no reason to deny people that want to join our country the ability to do so.
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.
While there is no legal obligation for a country to accept refugees, some might argue that there is a moral one. In general terms people should feel morally obligated to help others in need so why should the situation with refugees be any different?
When news outlets discuss refugees they tend to speak of their admittance into our country solely on the basis of national security. “Is it safe for our citizens if we let all these foreigners into the United States?” Rarely is the safety of the refugees questioned.
In an article written by a professor at Northeastern University, the discussion of the moral obligations to help refugees is discussed. The initial cause for the moral obligation to help refugees is in the knowledge that if they are not helped there is a large reason to believe that they will be killed.
The unfortunate reality is, this fact has not persuaded people that there is a real need to assistance. Instead, large Western countries will help to implement refugee camps in other countries or plan resettlements as long as it is not in their own country. The author of the article Serena Parekh mentions how these refugee camps are doing no good for the people that are supposedly seeking refuge in them.
Indeed, the situation is so bad in Jordan that people are choosing to return home to Syria rather than remain there. – Parekh
Refugees are choosing to live in a constant fear of death and violence rather than face what is supposed to be a safer place. The resources that the countries willing to host refugees have are no better than what the refugees already have access to. These countries that are primarily in the Global South need help on their own and require even more support to help the extra people that they are trying to help.
If the stronger Western countries were open to accepting more refugees themselves rather just providing resources, it would cut out the middle man and help even more people in need of assistance.