Trump should consider allowing more refugees in the US


Illustration by Sophie Fleming

Surprise, Surprise — Syria is back at war again just days after the United States, the United Kingdom and France carried out missile strikes on a Syrian chemical weapons facility! This ineffective intimidation tactic intended to scare Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, only left more Syrian people displaced and living in fear. “Mission accomplished”? I think not, Donald. The only way to effectively help the Syrian people is to allow more refugees into the United states, not to bomb all that is left of a country in shambles.

Punitive military campaigns much like this one have failed to deter U.S. adversaries in the past, including Al-Qaeda. In 1998, the U.S. used a combination of cruise missiles and bombs against Al-Qaeda, and three years later, arguably one of the most devastating tragedies in American history occurred: the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

This is only one of several examples. Especially given our previous track record, the expectation that these attacks would somehow help to ameliorate the crisis is naive. Following the attack, al-Assad took to Twitter to say that, “this aggression will only increase Syria and the Syrian people’s determination to continue to fight and crush terror in every inch of the country.”

In Trump’s address following the order of missile strikes on Syria, Trump emphasized the failure of the U.S. and its allies to resolve the Syria conflict and the humanitarian catastrophe that it has created. While the president was prompted by his disgust at images of “beautiful babies” being choked to death by chemical weapons, the Trump administration continues to deny sanctuary to victims of the same war.

About four million Syrian refugees have resettled in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The vast majority of Syrian refugees in neighboring countries live in urban areas, with only eight percent accommodated by refugee camps, according the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. While life in neighboring countries is undoubtedly better than remaining in Syria, whether these countries have the resources needed to resettle and integrate refugees into their economies and societies is questionable.

For example, in Lebanon, refugees have little or no financial resources — around 70% live below the national poverty line, and on top of this, there are no formal refugee camps. Similarly, it is estimated that 93 percent of refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line, although Jordan does have the camps of Za’atari and Azraq.

The US, however, has only accepted about 20,000 refugees since the beginning of the Syrian conflict. But with a population of 320 million in the world’s largest economy, we can resettle many more.  

To be fair, President Trump did mention creating a “big beautiful safe zone” for Syrian refugees. And after that, we can all sing kumbaya around the campfire, because that’s completely realistic.  

Establishing safe zones in Syria would require protection by ground forces and the imposition of a no-fly zone, both of which require comprehensive planning and substantial resources. In addition, the method by which the United States would seek safe zones, whether it be through the United Nations or by agreement with other governments (especially Russia and Syria) remains uncertain, as well as the size, location and cost.

By the time the United States actually follows through with the creation of safe zones, who knows how many more Syrians will have suffered at the hands of al-Assad? It would be much more beneficial to allow more Syrian refugees into the United States where resources would be accessible, and there would be no threat of a chemical weapon attack.

Contrary to popular belief, it is highly unlikely that a refugee is linked to terrorism. More Americans were killed by right-wing extremists than Islamic terrorists between 2001 and 2015, according to a study by New America. In addition, not one person from the seven countries targeted by the travel ban has killed anyone in a terrorist attack in the United States in 40 years, according to a 2016 study conducted by the CATO Institute. It is clear that the prejudice towards refugees is not in the name of national security but in the name of bigotry.




Instead of dropping bombs on Syria and displacing millions of Syrians, the United States should allow more Syrian refugees to emigrate into the country as well as ending punitive military campaigns.

— Our View