Amid the recent, mainly Republican backlash against accepting Syrian refugees by many states, Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to allow refugees to settle in Pennsylvania is a refreshingly ethical decision in American politics today.
We are thankful that Wolf has made the right decision because these refugees are not terrorists — they are the people running from the same terrorists we fear.
As Penn students, especially since many of us come from immigrant backgrounds as well, we need to show our support for Wolf’s decision, whether through posting on social media, instigating campus discussions or volunteering to help resettle the refugees.
Critics of Wolf’s policy worry that ISIS members or other terrorists will use the Syrian refugee crisis to infiltrate the United States. However, the federal government’s screening process is extremely thorough, on average taking over a year. Potential refugees are subjected to in-person interviews and biometric tests, with involvement from antiterrorist agencies. They even have to go through two background checks because the process takes so long that circumstances might have changed over the course of the application.
In many ways, the fears currently being vehemently expressed about the Syrian refugees resemble rampant xenophobia more than legitimate concerns.
But if we allow ourselves to fall prey to instinctive fears of “the Other,” we will be doing a great wrong to the millions of families fleeing destruction, suffering and death in their homelands.
As a recent article in The Huffington Post pointed out, the government’s half-hearted response to the refugee crisis mirrors another refugee crisis — Jews fleeing Nazi Germany were largely turned away from the United States because of fears of German spies. As a result, thousands of refugees needlessly died.
We need to learn from the mistakes of history, not repeat them. And we’re happy that Wolf is a student of history and not of hate.
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