Thoughts on Threats of Syrian Resettlement

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“George Washington said it best when he said we should stay out permanent alliances with other nations” says senior at Moeller High School, Matt Weaver. In 2015, the United States accepted around 70,000 refugees from other countries and had the maximum set for 85,000 in 2016. Meanwhile, European countries have taken in many more. Germany, for example, has accepted more than 476,000 in 2015. On top of the relatively small amount of refugees the US takes in, President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order, banning admittance to refugees from seven Islamic countries.

According to the National Counterterrorism Center, some terrorist groups are confirmed “trying to use available programs to get people not only into the United States, but into western European countries, as well.” Many Americans think that it is dangerously possible for terrorists to do this because of the screening process. Although the vetting process is intense, there are some parts where it is difficult to be sure someone told the 100% truth. “You can’t go beyond that, so you are sorta having to take their word for it,” says DHS Secretary Johnson. The threat of terrorism has the country scrambling to find a solution.

Ryan Laib '17 (photo by Dan Hansen)

Ryan Laib '17 (photo by Dan Hansen)

What Do Students Think?

 Knowing this threat of Syrian refugees, I asked seniors from Moeller High School how much they agreed with the changes the US is making to stop resettlement. “I understand the conflict to a certain degree,” says senior, Ryan Laib, “I know that many Syrians have been displaced as a result of… civil war.” The other two seniors had a similar level of knowledge to Ryan. They felt uncertainty toward the way we accept refugees. 

The screening process consists of being referred to the US by the UN and going through numerous background checks and interviews before becoming eligible to come to the United States. Even with this rigorous system, senior Steve Johnston says, “You can never be 100% sure someone is not a terrorist … I don’t know if that level of trust can be applied to millions of people.” Senior Matt Weaver remains somewhat neutral on the topic. Matt points out that the issue is complex. He says, “If they are going to stop Syrians, they might as well stop any immigrant because anyone could pose a threat to the United States.” Terrorism can come from anywhere, so why is Syria the focus?

Donald Trump's "Muslim Ban"

Mathew Weaver '17 (photo by Dan Hansen)

Mathew Weaver '17 (photo by Dan Hansen)

The threat of terrorism is clear to these young men of Moeller, but is our method to fix it appropriate? Recently, in efforts to control this situation, Donald Trump has “temporarily banned all immigrants from seven Muslim countries and ordered his administration to develop "extreme vetting" measures for immigrants from those countries.” He said, "We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.” Although the ban was declared in six federal courts as “unconstitutional” it was a clear move from the President to fulfill his campaign promise. The executive order was intended to protect the US from terrorism, but some argue it didn’t focus the most dangerous group. The Cato Institute has provided a list of countries that have had actual terrorists come to the United States. According to the chart, the countries involved in the ban have a relatively small amount of terrorists. Meanwhile, the country with the highest relationship to terrorism, Saudi Arabia with 19 terrorists and 2,369 murders, is allied with the United States.

Chart of Terrorists that have been documented coming to the United States. (https://www.cato.org/blog/guide-trumps-executive-order-limit-migration-national-security-reasons)

Chart of Terrorists that have been documented coming to the United States. (https://www.cato.org/blog/guide-trumps-executive-order-limit-migration-national-security-reasons)

The Muslim ban is far from perfect but who knows the best approach to take? Moeller students were at a loss for an alternative to this ban. Ryan Laib suggests, “Doing exactly what we are doing now. That is, using military to calm the terrorist situation.” At the end of the day, the threat of terrorism, from outside countries, is still quite complex. Whether or not we “stay out of permanent alliances with other nations” as Washington advised, our solution to fix this issue has yet to be determined.

Dan Hansen '17