If I hear one more person ranting about discrimination against Christian refugees in Syria and the resulting threat of terrorism, my blood pressure is going to reach unhealthy levels. I know I’m not alone. Unfortunately, encountering such xenophobic ignorance is probably inevitable. So let’s take a moment to count the ways these assertions are undeniably, indescribably, quantifiably wrong by pointing out what the facts actually reveal.
Aggregate numbers are out of context. There are generally more Muslims accepted than Christians from around the world. because there are more Muslim refugees than Christian refugees.
Christians are not granted the lion’s share of asylum because they are a distinctive minority within the world’s refugee population. The most recent available data on the subject indicates that upwards of 70% of refugees across the globe are Muslim, which is why you’ll find so many Muslim asylees in the U.S.
Region specific numbers are out of context, as well. Christian Syrian refugees are being resettled proportionately to their population.
The most recent census data out of Syria indicates Muslims make up 92% of the population, while Christians comprise a mere 7.8%. These percentages hold true in the refugee population as well. Available data estimates that roughly 500,000 of the 6.5 million refugees are Christian, meaning Christian refugees make up approximately 7.7% of the total Syrian refugee population. That’s part of the reason the refugees admitted to the states have been mostly Muslim; there’s just more of them.
Sorry folks, but that’s not discrimination. That’s math. But that’s only part of it.
More Muslim Syrian refugees are resettled in the U.S. because of their limited options relative to Christians.
You can’t have this discussion without considering the availability of refuge within the EU and other regions. Multiple countries over the past several years have indicated a willingness to take in refugees… but only if they are Christian. That means that there are more places of refuge available to Christians than there are for Muslims. When the U.S. pledges to accept a given amount of refugees, and there are more Muslim refugees without options, of course they’re accepted at a higher rate.
There is no “flood” of refugees, Muslim or otherwise, coming into the United States.
The asylum process in the U.S. takes an absurdly long time — between 18 and 24 months, on average. You will not see an avalanche of refugees accepted at any point. The country is not going to be “overrun” by Muslims. Plus, being accepted into the states as a refugee, as any immigration lawyer will tell you, is a complex and stringent process involving five different agencies, extensive interviews and intelligence reviews, medical examinations, and much more. The screening process for refugees seeking resettlement in the U.S. is the single most in-depth process anyone coming into the U.S. faces. So even if we’re pledging to take in 10,000 refugees, odds are only a fraction of those make it over our borders, and even then it would be over a span of several years.
Even the number of refugees we’re considering taking in is minuscule relative to other nations.
It’s important to remember that the number of Syrian refugees actually accepted by the U.S. is embarrassingly low — a little over 2,000. Germany, in the meantime, has received over 100,000 asylum applications in 2015 and has already resettled more than 57,000 refugees within their borders. France, with a low application rate, has only brought in 6,700 refugees, but even with the recent attacks in Paris, has committed to accepting tens of thousands more. In the meantime, Turkey has absorbed 1.9 million, Lebanon has accepted 1.1 million, Jordan has welcomed 629,000, and Iraq has brought in 249,000. Many of these refugees are currently living in camps, but these nations have done their best to provide as much support as possible. The U.S., with all of its resources, should be humiliated by these figures.
The risk of bringing terrorists into the country through the refugee population is unbelievably low.
Guess what? Muslims across the globe hate ISIS. Quit generalizing.
That’s not all. By and large, refugees don’t get to pick which country they get resettled to — that’s up to the UNHRC, and the recent EU quota system reinforces that. Though some might attempt to directly apply for asylum, they would then run into the onerous screening process we discussed above. Would-be terrorists can’t plan to infiltrate the U.S. through the asylum process. Terrorists are far more likely to gain entry to the states through immigration and tourist visas than as a refugee.
And let’s be clear: the data does not support the fearmongering surrounding potential terrorist attacks. Don’t point to Paris; the perpetrators were not refugees, but EU nationals. Don’t point to the U.S., either. Of the more than 780,000 refugees accepted in the 14 years since 9/11, a total of three have been arrested on terrorism charges. Those three never executed their plans. They were caught beforehand. Hysterics over an onslaught of ISIS operatives disguised as refugees are nothing but paranoia.
If anyone is being discriminated against right now, it’s Muslims.
We have Presidential candidates saying only Christian refugees should be admitted to the U.S. Never mind that there is absolutely no way to test someone’s faith reliably — it’s an abhorrent and bigoted approach to helping people in need. How can we be so sure? Because we already made that mistake with the Jews during WWII.
We have others saying we shouldn’t admit any Syrians into the country. Maybe that’s because they know a religious test is untenable. Mostly it’s because they believe it will let in a whole bunch of terrorists. As we’ve already covered, they’re wrong, but their assumptions constitute anti-Muslim bigotry to their core. The House has gone so far as to pass a bill to this end, though Obama will most definitely veto it should it come across his desk.
We have more than half the governors in the country refusing to accept any refugees within their borders, largely as a matter of political posturing — such proposals are patently illegal. Their words are hollow, but reek of discrimination as well.
Trump has called for a one-two punch so despicable it should make your stomach turn. First he argued we should start shutting down mosques across the country. It’s totally unconstitutional, of course, but the Presidential candidate can’t be bothered by that. Then he argued that all Muslims should be required to register as such, and that a database should be maintained to track these individuals. Yes, this is unconstitutional, but mostly horrifying. You know who else required people to register by faith? Hitler. (And, for once, that’s a fair comparison.)
Speaking of Hitler, you’ve got politicians not even pretending their ideas are different. You’ve got elected officials calling for the reinstitution of internment camps. This, too, is illegal. And deplorable. And disgusting given the history of such efforts. And we’ve been down this road before with nauseating results. And Hitler. Did I mention Hitler?
For all the concern about security, those pushing back against Syrian refugee resettlement stateside are making things worse. Failure to act on this issue is a recipe for a national security disaster.
There are three ways that denying Syrian refugees access to the U.S. endangers national security.
First, the anti-Muslim rhetoric being spewed by our leaders will only strengthen ISIS. This is exactly what they want — validation of their characterization of the West as Muslim hating. As we discussed earlier this week, odds are this whole fiasco strengthens the recruiting efforts of ISIS, helping them grow in number and capabilities. It’s not even about the number of refugees accepted (which we already know will be low) but a compassionate willingness to accept them. It’s all about optics.
Second, the unchecked refugee crisis threatens to help ISIS expand their hold on the region. While the acceptance of millions of refugees by surrounding nations is admirable, these countries are stretched beyond capacity, and this strain has weakened their ability to fight back against encroaching ISIS influence due to resource depletion and increased domestic tension over the refugee population. This isn’t wild speculation; it’s already happening. If people are really worried about ISIS, tackling the refugee crisis is the best way to alleviate some of this pressure on surrounding nations and combat ISIS efforts to expand.
Third, the destabilization of surrounding nations is turning up the heat on already long-brewing conflicts. In exchange for their hospitality, Turkey wants help combating the Kurds — a request that would extend an already bloody and lengthy situation that needs no exacerbation. Lebanon wants help combating Hamas — which is not an entirely terrible idea, but difficult to prioritize with ISIS growing stronger by the day. Despite the fact that taking out Assad would leave a power vacuum that would strengthen ISIS, Saudi Arabia — a country that will take no Syrian refugees — staunchly believes it’s the only way forward. And though many regard Iran as a crucial player in defeating ISIS, Israel keeps screaming that defeating Iran is the only way to fight ISIS.
This cacophony of demands could spark even more conflict throughout the region, inevitably compounding the refugee problem and the help the current state of affairs lends ISIS. If we turn a cold shoulder to the refugees in favor of a pure military strategy, as some suggest, the U.S. may have to cater to some of these demands in order to get the concessions they need to execute such a strategy. That increases the likelihood of widespread regional violence substantially, but it’s also complicated territory. We’d like to assume these countries are our allies in the fight against ISIS… but that is very much in question. There’s no way we don’t screw ourselves here.
In other words, if people are as worried about ISIS and national security as they say, our only option is put aside the bigotry and paranoia to open our doors to the Syrian refugees.
No matter how you look at it, Syrian refugee alarmists just wrong.
The global data says they’re wrong. U.S. data shows they’re wrong. U.S. processes show they’re wrong. The behavior of them and their embraced leaders show they’re wrong. Strategic evaluation of national security threats shows they’re wrong. Let’s be painfully clear: Christians refugees are not being discriminated against and turning away refugees is the best way to shoot ourselves in the foot. So to all those foaming at the mouth over welcoming these beleaguered souls into our country, kindly shut up and sit down. Your temper tantrum belies your ignorance.