Welcoming Syrian refugees is our duty

By Mickey Smith

The United States has always been a leader in the world. We are one of the largest world powers for a reason. We have always accepted those who flee from war-torn and poverty-ridden countries and taken in those who wanted the opportunity to make something more of themselves.

Throughout and after the Vietnam War, the U.S. took in almost 800,000 refugees fleeing the conflicts in Southeast Asia. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the U.S. took in Irish refugees escaping famine. We have always been there for those in need, and another time has come for us to do the same.

In the case of today’s Syrian refugees who are fleeing from a brutal civil war, I believe we should give these people a safe haven where they can build real, successful lives.

Lives such as Shadid Khan’s, who started as an immigrant from Pakistan but rose in America to become the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Another example would be Vinod Dham, an immigrant from India, who worked for Intel to create their first flash memory chip. These are but two examples of immigrants who changed their lives for the better after coming to the U.S.

Most of these people seeking refuge are men, women and children wanting better lives for their families — lives that shouldn’t require them to always watch their backs and fear for their lives.

It is our duty as a leading world power to stabilize the situation that has arisen in the eastern hemisphere. With the amount of people flowing from these Middle Eastern countries, Europe has called for help in resettling those who have lost their homes and their ways of life.

The U.S. began by taking in only 1,500 Syrian refugees, but I believe that President Obama is taking a step in the right direction in welcoming more to our country.

Just as throughout the 20th century when we took in those fleeing their countries that had fallen into turmoil, I think that taking in these people could yield some kind of reward. It would be another step forward for the U.S. in strengthening our country and our reputation as the land of the free.

We should take these people in because of our contribution to the declining state of the Middle East. The crisis in Syria with the rise of the Bashar Al-Assad regime is partially the fault of the U.S. which destabilized the area with the war in Iraq. This is just part of the aftermath.

The most common argument against this is that these refugees may be extremist enemies who seek to destroy our country, but the screening process we have in place would weed out those who were a true danger to our country. The U.S. will only take in those who intentions are truly to better their lives.

We are more than just this fear of those foreign to us. We should assert ourselves as the humanitarian force we once were. As Americans, we always claim that the U.S. is the best country in the world. It’s time for us to prove it by saving those who need us now.

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