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Facts speak louder than words: Syrian refugees have never been a threat to America

If we really want to fight terrorism we must fight the fear it has instilled in us, not the innocent people suffering from it

· Feb 14, 2017 Tweet

Michael Lim/The Badger Herald

The Syrian refugee crisis has become one of the most important issues in western politics over the last two years. The Hungarian prime minister argued the European Union’s lack of ability to handle the issue caused the British to leave the E.U., and BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse is one of many arguing this has lead to the rise of far right and nationalist parties in Europe.

Closer to home, President Donald Trump spent the fall running a campaign tough on immigration and keeping a no-refugee stance as a cornerstone of his campaign. What Trump and many rising leaders in Europe are leaning on is the argument accepting refugees is dangerous for any country. This has lead to the recent executive order putting a temporary hold on all refugees and completely banning all Syrian refugees from the U.S.

Last year, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., posted a picture on Twitter comparing refugees to potentially deadly Skittles.

But is the claim Syrian refugees pose a significant danger of committing terrorist attacks in this country actually valid?

From an emotional standpoint, I can perhaps see where some of the arguments are coming from. Terrorism, by definition, is designed to frighten people and pressure governments to divert from their standard course of action. In that sense, terrorism is clearly working.

But the risk simply is not there. Since the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. has allowed entry to around 3 million individuals. About 20 of these individuals eventually went on to attempt some form of terrorist action and only three succeeded.

For accuracy, I decided to conduct an experiment. I was able to fit around 700 Skittles in a gallon container, to test Donald Trump Jr.’s measure of risk. So, by my quick math, the “Syrian refugee problem” cannot be compared to a bowl of Skittles with three bad ones. It is more like a 4,285-gallon, 7,000-pound container of Skittles with three bad ones. If you can somehow justify it is worth banning refugees for that level of risk — that it is still moral — then you may still have an argument. Or do you?

Maybe equating human lives with candy is not the best way to analyze political crisesI don’t know about you, but I’ve never appreciated being equated to a chewy candy. And I’m willing to argue that Read…

When looking through a lens more focused on refugee data, the argument Syrian refugees are dangerous becomes even less factual. Not a single terrorist attack in the U.S. since 1980 has been committed by a Syrian, refugee or otherwise. In fact, not a single Syrian has even been implicated in any failed terrorist attacks.

A common phrase when discussing this issue, something I have heard myself, is something along the lines of people being worried about refugees just streaming into the U.S. unchecked. If any person who worries about that is reading this, I have to say I 100 percent agree with you. I personally would be uncomfortable with accepting people from known global hotspots without checking them first.

That is why the U.S. has a thorough, 18- to 24-month vetting process for refugees coming to this country. I don’t know a single person who is advocating for letting people in blindly. The president’s so-called “extreme vetting” already exists.

America is land of opportunities, as long as you aren’t a Syrian refugeeThey said people make mistakes and learn from history. They said America is the land of opportunities, the world’s leading Read…

All of this leads me to conclude that on a scale from one to 10, with one being utterly false and 10 being totally true, I would rate the statement Syrian refugees pose a danger to the U.S. safety at a pitiful one.

I find this statement to be incredibly misleading in all the various forms it has been presented and urge anyone to immediately question people who use it, as it is at best, ignorant, and at worst, deliberate fear-mongering at the expense of suffering people. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about this or anything I write, please feel free to email me at the address below.

Harry Lees ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science.


This article was published Feb 14, 2017 at 6:00 am and last updated Feb 13, 2017 at 10:18 pm


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