Obama Keeps The Door Open To Syrian Refugees
Obama vows to receive Syrian refugees this year
In spite of opposition from critics concerning security issues, US President Obama said on Thursday that he expects for the US to fulfill its goal of receiving 10,000 Syrian refugees before the end of this fiscal year. This was a promise made by the US since the European countries started facing a refugee crisis last summer. As of Thursday, according to data from the State Department, t 1,703 refugees had been admitted into the US so far.
Republicans have been the most critical against this move under the argument that militants or terrorists could be passing as refugees (instead of doctors, lawyers, plumbers, students, newlyweds, or anything else), and because of the threat they say large numbers of immigrants could pose to the US and it citizens. However, when asked about the topic, Obama replied
“We’re going to keep on pushing (for the goal)… Administratively I think now we have the process to speed it up. Our goal is to continue to try to make the case to Congress and the American people (that) this is the right thing to do and we believe that we can hit those marks before the end of the year.”
Obama has made clear how important it is to help Syrian refugees by providing adequate assistance, while also ensuring the American people that refugees are properly screened and vetted. However, the concern about the security implications of admitting refugees, sparked by the Republican fear-mongering, is increasing. These fears were strengthened with the deadly attacks happening in Paris and Brussels, in spite of the fact that those were home-grown terrorists, and have transformed into the strong xenophobic and Islamophobic fear and war mongering of the GOP presidential primaries – in particular the campaign of Donald Trump.
According to The Hill, the US has been increasing its efforts for the past months to speed up the process of admission of Syrian refugees. This has been done by increasing its manpower in the Middle East, to try to interview and process larger number of applicants – a sign that the Obama administration is keeping its promise to thoroughly vett refugees before their admittance into the United States.
The process, however, is slow. Nevertheless, following a high-level meeting in Geneva on the Syrian refugee crisis, the US State Department issued a statement reaffirming its commitment and declaring, according to Fox News, that
“The United States joins UNHCR in calling for new ways nations, civil society, the private sector, and individuals can together address the global refugee challenge. The United States encourages other countries to consider expanding resettlement and other forms of admissions for all refugee populations, ensuring that more of those in need have the opportunity to start their lives anew in safety and with dignity.”
Compared to other European countries and allies, the US is far behind in the number of Syrian refugees that have been assisted during the current humanitarian crisis. Fears over security issues are not exclusive from the US, nor the Republicans. And while such fears are being used by conservatives and war-hawks as fodder for fear and war mongering, proceeding with prudence is certainly not irrational considering the increasing violence that has been seen with extremists groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS, the Taliban, and so on.
Ad yet, admitting refugees is a global obligation and responsibility. And fulfilling this promise would be not only an excellent way for Obama’s administration to conclude, but also an international example of the values and commitment the US talks about. The only question is, will America live up to it’s own high ideals? Or is “American Exceptionalism” about America making an exception for itself?