Somewhere between a rock and a barred place: Refugees crossing the Atlantic to find American dream


By Jannah Kalai
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As political fire is sparked once again with party disagreements in Washington, D.C., the number of Middle Eastern refugees making the dangerous Aegean Sea journey rises, totalling almost 700,000 in Greece as they make the passage from Turkey. It was a shared sensation of relief as volunteers welcomed the refugees to Europe with open arms. The United States is divided on whether or not we should accept incoming refugees, as some argue that there is no concrete method in which an official may separate a refugee from a terrorist. Yet, we have to remember that this stems from an internal war that has broken the bond between the Syrian Assad regime and the common citizen, and has left many parts of the country in rubble. The entirety of the political scope and history must be taken into account, as the United States begins to understand what refugees are attempting to escape from.

Much like Greece, France has made the decision to continue to accept refugees, and will average 30,000 within the next two years. This decision came as a surprise to many, as this statement was made only a short week after the Nov. 13 Paris attack, during which the terrorists involved found their way into the French capital hiding among the incoming refugees.

France, the country that was targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) radicals has made the decision to open its doors, understanding that those who flee are escaping much worse that what we could ever imagine. It is rare that the western world is subject to news coverage of the destruction of Syria, and when one may see first hand what these individuals are attempting to escape from, a viewpoint is more clearly defined. In his declaration to accept refugees in the next two years, French President Francois Hollande has said, “We have to reinforce our borders while remaining true to our values.” But it appears that it is difficult for U.S. state governors to remain true to their values while attempting to prioritize the “safety of our people.” Their political diction fails to cover up the fact that in hindsight, all refugees have been attempting to find for years is safety for its people. In terms of our local decision as a state, Governor David Ige has stated officially both that Hawaii will welcome refugees and on a softer note that he had no true power in the final say.

It seems as if we have quickly taken sides in accordance to our own personal views, without taking into account the full extent of this issue. Those fleeing from Syria and surrounding Middle Eastern countries are escaping a violent battle that initially sparked in March of 2011. Refugees have been attempting to find peace for years before the Paris attacks.

When the counterarguments are examined, it comes to light that the argument is not if the United States should accept refugees; rather, it is when and how. No matter how shallow one politician many think another is and vice versa, it is clear that both sides have come to accept the fact that refugees are being passed around like a tangible object with western Europe and beyond. It is time that the United States looks deeper into the dilemma.

The argument that there is no solid method in which one may separate a refugee from an ISIL member is not a radical opinion, as the justification is grounded in facts. However, do we become desensitized to our own inner moral standings for a “What if?” question? The threat of ISIL is growing and prevalent, and it is understandable for many politicians to want a strict system to verify all incoming refugees. But it is time that the United States stops the flowery narration and political tears and realizes that we must act now for the greater good and the thousands of lives at stake, before it is too late.

"The Housewife Chronicles" by Mary Conner
“The Housewife Chronicles” by Mary Conner