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Global Perspectives

20 October 2017

Should Refugees be Granted Asylum Globally?

Terrorism is arguably a greater threat than ever before. In recent years, it has claimed

markedly more lives compared to a few decades ago. Opinions vary on whether there is a

correlation between refugees (particularly middle-eastern) being admitted and the number and

intensity of terror attacks. Some analysts even believe that more restrictive immigration laws has

led to an increase in terror attacks. Others argue that admittance of refugees is a positive event

for a country.

The National Review warns that the refugee program in America is a clear and present

danger that is practically an invitation for radicals to enter with ease. We must reevaluate our

policy regarding refugee resettlement to protect the safety, freedom, and liberty we value as

American citizens. Our current program is a Trojan horse allowing ISIS and other terrorist

groups an open invitation to immigrate into the U.S. and establish bases of operation legally and

at taxpayer expense, warns Brian Babin, a United States Representative and advocate for reform

of the American refugee program. Babin has introduced legislation to stop what he calls the

presidents reckless plan to bring in tens of thousands of refugees from Syria and other radical

Islamic hotspots. Babin goes on to cite FBI director James Comey. President Obamas own

FBI director has warned that he cannot properly screen refugees coming from troubled terrorist

hotspots such as Syria, Babin claims. Babin emphasizes that it takes nothing more than common

sense to realize the danger and stop allowing the enemy to walk right up to our doorstep. Babin

uses Europe as an example of what not to do. recent German intelligence reported this week in
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the U.S. shows irrefutable evidence that ISIS hit squads infiltrated Syrian refugees, he

mentions. He suggests that placing refugees in safe zones near their homelands is the right path

to take in order to be compassionate Americans, (Babin, 2016).

The assumption that restrictive immigration laws and extremely thorough background

checks of refugees are effective in reducing amount of terror attacks is superficial. Although

immigration laws are becoming increasingly restrictive worldwide, incidences of terrorism are

increasing (Sanger-Katz, 2016). Penetrating the refugee flow is a very inefficient way for radical

Islamic terrorists to gain access to a country (Dearden, 2016). Ben Emmerson, a United Nations

investigator and counter-terrorism and human rights expert found little evidence that ISIS and

other terror groups use refugee flows or that asylum seekers are prone to radicalization. In his

speech to the UN General Assembly, he continued with Overly-restrictive migration policies

introduced because of terrorism concerns are not justified and may in fact be damaging to state

security. Emmersons report suggested that policies which criminalize irregular migration

may lead to an increased risk of terror attacks and decreased state security. Furthermore, analysts

have forewarned that these policies are seen as oppressive to Muslims, and feed radical Islamic

propaganda and have the potential to increase the intensity of terror attacks. Emmerson closes his

speech by reiterating that policies that hold accountability, justice, and human rights in high

regard are crucial to effective counterterrorism policies (Dearden, 2016).

While the "responsibility to protect" is an obligation of the national government of all

sovereign states, building walls and the extremely strict vetting of refugees is superfluous.

Through the entire duration of Americas refugee program (about four decades), arguably no

terror attacks have been committed by refugees. As aforementioned, penetrating a country

through the refugee flow is extremely inefficient in most instances, and radical Islamists are
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much more likely to gain access to a country through visas and fake passports (Russell, 2002).

The Paris terror attacks (November 2015) were not executed by refugees. Contrary to popular

belief, according to Newsweek, the attackers exploited non-refugee migration routes (Bier, 2015).

ISIS themselves consider Syrian refugees traitors to the radical Islamic cause. A September

2017 ISIS video states that It is correct for Muslims to leave the lands of the infidel for the

lands of Islam but not vice versa. Newsweek has found that Nearly 90 percent of displaced

Syrians in Turkey have no sympathy for ISIS at all, even though ISIS is fighting the person who

most refugees see as their main enemy. One dead attacker of the November 2015 Paris attack

allegedly had a fake Syrian passport near his body, suggesting he exploited the refugee flow. As

aforementioned. Some have speculated that the attacker purposely placed the passport near his

body to make the west more inclined to deny Syrian refugees. Syrian refugees being turned away

benefits ISISs cause. Studies have shown that terrorism is increased around refugee camps near

the zone of conflict. When refugees are resettled away from the zone of conflict, this is not the

case (Bier, 2015). It seems almost to be a complete disregard for human rights to allow refugees

to live in the turbulent conditions of a refugee camp than to resettle them elsewhere. The United

Nations has warned that the lives of tens of thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution

are at risk from growing xenophobia (Schlein, 2016). United Nations refugee chief Filippo

Grandi has stated that the right to asylum is being undermined by the xenophobia and the

tendency to surmise that refugee populations are riddled with radical Islamists. The arrival of

large numbers of refugees and migrants has created panic and political instability in the global

north, fueled by irresponsible politicians. Restrictions in the laws governing asylum are being

enforced in many countries, even among those with a proud tradition of refugee protection and

human rights, he said. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convicted the world
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for not responsibly addressing the extremely dire refugee situation, which has caused death and

injury to incalculable men, women, and children. Those who are not physically wounded have

sustained psychological damage. The situation in Syria is one of the most dramatic and tragic in

the world. And, we must also remember the millions of other refugees from Yemen,

Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, South Sudan and beyond. More than six

decades of war, he said (Schlein, 2016).

With the millions upon millions of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world,

it is nearly impossible to resettle them all. Providing aid to internally displaced persons and

refugees in the form of amenities and cash is a life-changing way to improve the quality of life of

those who have no choice but to live in the tumultuous refugee camps. The Guardian proposes

an effective way to provide aid to such persons. There are four critical elements to a better

approach, writes David Miliband and Ravi Gurumurthy, critics of the current approach to

dealing with the global refugee crisis. David Miliband is president and CEO of the International

Rescue Committee. Ravi Gurumurthy is vice president, strategy and innovation. Instead of

creating parallel systems, humanitarians need to strengthen water, sanitation, housing, healthcare

and education systems so that displaced people can access the services they need, alongside host

populations. At the same time development actors must keep humanitarian goals in mind,

ensuring that vulnerable individuals are able to access services and basic needs, Miliband and

Gurumurthy write. Miliband and Gurumurthy believe that refugees should not be isolated from

host populations, but rather assimilated into them. In places like Lebanon, where 20% of the

population are refugees, there is a tremendous amount of strain put on infrastructure that

humanitarian efforts should be working to keep intact. Miliband and Gurumurthy go on to

critique the type of aid that is provided to areas with functioning economies. Second, in urban
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areas where economic markets are still functioning, most refugees do not need to be given food,

clothing and blankets, they need cash. Supporting the economy of such areas is an effective way

to get refugees back on their feet, working and functioning as they would have before calamity

struck their homeland. Instead of offering supplies, offering cash is a more permanent solution

that allows refugees to become more independent and able to sustain themselves. Cash allows

them to choose what to buy, slashes the costs for NGOs of transporting bulky goods, and boosts

local economies, Miliband and Gurumurthy comment (Miliband & Ravi Gurumurthy, 2015).

In 2015, Officials privately noted they were seeing a rise in Syrian immigrants trying to

cross the border. "Over the past eighteen months there has been an increase of Syrian and

Lebanese Nationals attempting to enter the United States along the southwest international

border via Mexico," the report found. "A majority of these individuals have arrived at major land

ports of entry in the U.S. claiming credible fear of returning to their home countries, CNBCs

Eamon Javers reported. The fact that refugees were claiming credible fear of returning to their

home countries is a testament to how poor the conditions they had to live in were. It is also a

testament to the fact that living in such conditions takes a psychological toll on them (Javers,

2017).

Refugees are unfortunately labeled as terrorists, rapists, and troublemakers without

second thought. They cannot escape this stigma as long as people are ignorant. Refugees are

human beings, and this demands that they are treated as such. They have inalienable rights as

humans, and to grant them asylum and provide aid is the least we can do to improve the quality

of their poor, oppressed lives. The United Nations Refugee Agency defines refugees as such:

Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in

international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom
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are at risk. It is inhumane to reject refugees and force them to return to situations where

surviving in it of itself is a struggle (Refugees, n.d.).

Xenophobia and ignorance unrightfully paint refugees in a negative light. Refugees do

not even have a history of carrying out terrorist attacks. It is an international responsibility to

deal with this issue, and sweeping it under the rug will not suffice. The way aid is currently

extended to refugees and internally displaced persons alike is not a permanent solution, and it

doesnt help refugees get back on their feet. The aid we do provide to refugee camps is not the

best way to help them become independent. We need to support their local economies rather than

just provide supplies. Suggestions to aid refugees in safe zones near the zone of conflict are not

viable; completely resettling refugees away from the zone of conflict is the most effective way to

rescue people from their confusing and unfortunate situations. Assimilating refugees into the

host population of a safe country away from the zone of conflict is the best way to help these

people get back to normal lives, and to live independent and without fear. If we want to aid these

fellow human beings, we need to think about how we can restore normalcy to their lives, where

they can feel safe, go to work, and support their families.


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Works Cited
Babin, B. (2016, August 18). Americas Refugee Program: A Clear and Present Danger .
Retrieved from National Review: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/439122/syrian-
refugee-program-dangerous-americans-we-must-reform-it-now
Bier, D. (2015, November 17). SIX GOOD REASONS ITS WRONG TO TURN AWAY
REFUGEES. Retrieved from Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/six-good-reasons-
its-wrong-turn-away-refugees-395467
Dearden, L. (2016, October 24). UN report finds no evidence migration causes terror attacks
and warns anti-refugee laws could worsen risk. Retrieved from Independent:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/refugee-crisis-terrorism-link-
migration-un-expert-report-no-evidence-isis-uses-route-human-rights-a7377961.html
Javers, E. (2017, June 7). 'A dangerous world': What's at stake when Syrian refugees are
smuggled to US. Retrieved from CNBC: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/06/a-dangerous-
world-whats-at-stake-when-syrian-refugees-are-smuggled-to-us.html
Miliband, D., & Ravi Gurumurthy. (2015, December 7). We need to radically rethink how we
help refugees. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/global-
development-professionals-network/2015/dec/07/we-need-to-radically-rethink-how-we-
help-refugees
Refugees. (n.d.). Retrieved from United Nations Refugee Agency: http://www.unhcr.org/en-
us/refugees.html
Russell, S. S. (2002, November 1). Refugees: Risks and Challenges Worldwide. Retrieved from
Migration Policy Institute: https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/refugees-risks-and-
challenges-worldwide
Sanger-Katz, M. (2016, August 16). Is Terrorism Getting Worse? In the West, Yes. In the World,
No. Retrieved from TheUpshot: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/16/upshot/is-
terrorism-getting-worse-in-the-west-yes-in-the-world-no.html
Schlein, L. (2016, October 3). UN: Growing Xenophobia Undermining Protection for Refugees.
Retrieved from Voanews: https://www.voanews.com/a/growing-xenophobia-
undermining-protection-for-refugees/3534625.html