Debate over admission of Syrian refugees spikes after Paris, Beirut attacks

Maggie Leone '17, Sports Editor and Maura Ward '17, Staff Writer

As of November 19th, 31 states in the US declared that they would not welcome Syrian refugees because of the increased threat of terrorism to the United States.  However, Pennsylvania is not one of them.  Governor Wolf’s decision to allow Syrian refugees into the state is a very controversial matter in Harrisburg, as many people there feel that this decision threatens the security of Pennsylvania.  Other states are hesitant to admit Syrian refugees in light of recent attacks in both Paris and Beirut.

After being admitted to the European Union, refugees may go anywhere in Europe.  In countries flooded with huge numbers of refugees, it is easier for potential threats to slip through the cracks.  This is not the case in the US. The United States has only admitted 1,854 Syrian refugees since 2012 (as of September 2015), a very small number compared with the number of refugees admitted to European countries.The rigorous 13-step process of admitting refugees into America takes up to 2 years to complete.  Most of the refugees coming from Syria are women and children, and only 2% of them are young men of combat age and without families.  The states denying refugees are still convinced that the refugees’ Syrian citizenship means that they are all threats to the safety of Americans, especially after the attacks in Paris and Beirut.  France is still planning on accepting 30,000 refugees within the next 2 years, despite the attacks on Paris.  They have not closed their doors, and neither should America.

In spite of the fear sparked by these attacks, the American spirit must remain intact.  Even though Europe must bear the full weight of refugee immigration, the debate in America has forced those in power, namely governors and presidential candidates, to consider whether barring our doors truly reflects the values America was founded upon.  Closing our doors to refugees denies American ideals, a country with a rich history of immigration.  The refugees appear threatening to those hyper-vigilant about terrorism.  Pennsylvania, however, recognizes that focusing on giving solace to those in need is more important than closing the door to (carefully scrutinized) potential threats.  

While the events that occurred in France a few weeks ago were nothing but tragic, barring entry to Syrian immigrants may not be the answer to ending violence.  Even though ISIS claimed that they were responsible for Paris, the U.S. should think carefully as to whether or not being more selective of who can immigrate will truly make a difference.  While national security is a huge issue, if ISIS wants to target America, they will find a way regardless.  World leaders need to set aside other differences and unite against ISIS in order to extinguish the threat that they pose.  It is unacceptable for any one group to hold power over several other strong world powers.  Yes, ISIS is a huge problem that that needs to be dealt with immediately, but turning away potentially helpless refugees from our primarily safe nation could be a mistake, considering their lives are in grave danger so long as they continue to live in Syria.