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Refugees Welcome

Donau Canal, Vienna

It is a small ugly fringe component of American society, a racist minority who wants to close our borders to those in need, its hatred fomented by a political clown who manipulates them for their votes. It is not the America I know and I am tired of the image of us Trump is conveying to the rest of the world. My America welcomes those in need. My America knows pain and struggling, offers sanctuary to the victims of brutal regimes, would not turn away a starving or sick child. My America is compassionate. The most recent Pew survey of Americans confirms that 73 percent of Americans feel this way.

However, the number or refugees admitted for resettlement is set by the president and Trump has set the cap at a record low for 2020.

The claims that immigrants are freeloaders is simply not true. Settled refugees pay back every dime it costs to resettle them in taxes, contributing more to the economy than the average American born here. Both Republicans and Democrats bring forth the same statistics of the positive impact to our economy of refugees who have resettled here. 

And yet our president apparently doesn’t comprehend this and continues to debase vulnerable humans, railing against immigrants from “shithole countries” (El Salvador, African and Haiti) coming here.

Nor is the claim Trump boasted in his first speech to Congress in February 2017 that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are foreign-born true. A recent Cato Institute study concluded that the chance of an America citizen being murdered by a refugee-terrorist is 1 in 4 billion per year. The Anti-Defamation League reports that hate crimes by white supremacists in the United States are far higher and unfortunately, we as a nation are all too familiar with these shooting sprees.

The Trump administration lowered the number of refugees allowed to be admitted to a mere 18,000 in 2020. Let’s put that in perspective looking at 2018 numbers as those are the most recent compiled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2018, there were nearly 26 million refugees forced to flee their countries. Additionally, there were over 41 million internally displaced people and 3.5 million asylum seekers, that is, those already in the country in which they were seeking legal protection.

In 2018, the US admitted 23,000 refugees, about 70 refugees per million residents.  Canada resettled 756 refugees per million residents. Australia admitted 510 refugees per million residents. Sweden resettled 465 refugees per million residents. Norway admitted 465 refugees per million residents. We have one of the highest standards of living in the world, but we don't have bragging rights for taking care of each other.

The total number of refugees resettled globally in 2018 was 92,000. That’s around 1/3 of 1 percent of the 25.9 million refugees seeking sanctuary worldwide. No one can feel good about that. 

Let's consider for a moment what life has been like for the refugees and asylum-seekers, those our president would call freeloaders. We’ve seen the pictures of the bodies of children washing up on the shores of Greece. We’ve read of the beheading, rapes, tortures, the unimaginable horrors involved in escaping tyrannical regimes, the abuse of the vulnerable by human smugglers, the countries who close their borders to the starving and sick, but not as much coverage is given to the application process, it length, the inability to earn a living under strict guidelines, the uncertainty, and frequently the social ostracism. 

I watched a documentary this weekend on Resignation Syndrome, a condition befalling refugee children in families that have made it to a safe country and are waiting for their application decision. The children have already been badly traumatized and cannot bear the uncertainty, living in fear that they may well have to return to their country of origin where they may be killed. They cannot process the possibility. They become listless, quit eating and then fall into a coma which can last anywhere from months to years. Can you even imagine watching this happen to your child on top of everything else?

Just three weeks ago on April 20, 2020 the President tweeted that he would be signing yet another unilateral Executive Order rolling back our cultural advances and shaming our country. Our self-appointed king plans to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States, citing the pandemic (and ‘protecting American jobs’) as the reason... at the same time he was arguing that the worst of the pandemic was over and the country could begin reopening.

This can only be construed as a transparent excuse to promote his agenda of racism.

Certainly, he is not reflecting any concern for the welfare of our brothers and sisters in need who are even more vulnerable as a pandemic sweeps the world.

This is not an American sentiment. We care.