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Andrew Simpson
Jane Blakelock
ENG-2100-30
3/15/2016

Syrian Refugees
The Syrian refugee policy in the United States has become a heated debate in not only
politics but in the everyday homes of American people. As the home of the free, the U.S. is a
fundamentally charitable nation, so wouldn't the policy take a clear stance on sheltering those
fleeing a violent civil war? The best policies, however, involve many factors and are not
perfectly clear. There are several different areas of debate concerning the Syrian Refugee crisis
that further explain why it is such a crisis. Debate over Syrian refugees consists of two
contrasting perspectives; while the U.S., as a leading superpower has a moral obligation to help
those less fortunate, Syrian refugees may bring an increase to terrorism in the U.S..

There is currently a civil war taking place in Syria, a war started in 2011. The many
complicated sides lead to a deadly war that has enraptured the entire area. With the U.S. backing
some groups against the current Syrian government and Russia backing the opposite it is a wellfunded and violent war. The well-known group, ISIS, as well as other militant groups are on the
rebel side against the current government as the U.S. is as well but the U.S. also fights against
these groups. With the amount of sides in the war it becomes very muddled whos fighting who
leading to further bloodshed. There is the regime side that has terrorist groups and the Syrian
Armed forces fighting for it, the rebel side that has terrorist groups and the free Syrian Army

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fighting for it, and the independent side that has the Kurds fighting for it. All of these forces are
then funded by Different super powers like Russia and the U.S.. Death polls from September
2014 were already over 200,000 deaths and not always from the current regimes forces
(Yourish, Lai, Watkins 1). There have been 181 estimated civilian deaths from U.S. air raids, at
least 650 medical workers dead from raids on hospitals, and at least 8,800 dead after
being kidnapped, detained and/or tortured. (Yourish, Lai, Watkins 1). It is clear that there is a
barbaric and violent war taking place in Syria and innocent civilians are not being left to the side
but are apart of the turmoil. This is why there is such a great number of Syrians fleeing as
refugees into other countries.

The Syrian refugee crisis is a critically debated issue across the globe but the U.S. has
done much less than Numerous European countries, arguably. As of March 2016, the U.S. has
allowed 2,943 Syrian refugees to relocate to the states since the start of the Syrian civil war in
2011 (U.S. Bureau of Population 1). According to BBC, German officials said more than a
million had been counted in Germany's "EASY" system for counting and distributing people
before they make asylum claims, as well as over 140,000 being granted asylum claims in 2015
alone. In Sweden this number is 32,215, in Italy 29,625, and in France 20,630 just to site a few
more examples (BBC 2). This shows that European countries are far more accepting of these
refugees than the U.S. is. For this reason the focus becomes why is the United States view so
different than that of other leading economic powers in the world.

A prominent opposition to the allowance of Syrian Refugees into the U.S. is based on the
idea that there would be a potential increase of acts of terrorism on U.S. soil. According to the

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Wall Street Journal there is a Rising international concern over potential security threats posed
by refugees from the Middle East (Albayrak 1). The turmoil, terrorism, and civil wars in the
Middle East, specifically in Syria, have caused a sense of fear in the U.S.. It is the idea of this
turmoil, terrorism, and extreme religious violence being brought over to the States that creates
the opposition towards allowing Syrian refuges across its borders. A very outspoken presidential
candidate, Donald Trump, has even called these refugees a Trojan Horse into America on several
accounts. There are many who agree with Trump and who believe that this turmoil in Syria will
only be brought to America if we allow Syrian Refugees into the U.S..

Furthering this idea, some members of the opposition to Syrian refugees believe that the
religion of Islam is based in intolerance and religiously ordained violence. This belief is
grounded in their interpretation of the Islamic holy book, the Quran. Syria and most of its
surrounding countries are Muslim nations, so a majority of the population are of the Islamic
faith. There are passages in the Quran stating that Muslims should not conform to other societies
and that other societies should conform to that of the Islamic faith. This is backed up by
supporting violence on the behalf of believers towards nonbelievers. One such example is,
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah ; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers,
merciful among themselves. (The Qur'an, AL-FATH 48.29). This is a simple quote that
distinguishes Islam as a nation that wants a separation of believers and non believers. In a world
where we prize diversity so much it is a dangerous idea for such a large group of people to refuse
assimilation. Another passage shows again the nonconforming aspect of the religion, Fight those
who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and

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His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who
were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
(The Quran, AT-TAWBAH 9.29). This passage provides yet more support that Islam advocates
fighting and violence against non-believers or those who are not Muslims. Another interesting
aspect of this passage is the idea of jizyah, an early Islamic form of taxing only non-believers
in Muslim owned land. This again speaks to the religion and ultimately the culture not
supporting diversity but rather bias against any group besides themselves.

Another aspect of the idea that Muslim refugees would potentially add more terrorism to
the U.S. are the trends of terrorism in the past. As we Americans know, the 9/11 terrorist attacks
on our nation were performed by those of Islamic faith. This event in particular has left a very
sore spot in our minds towards the religion that we have to be careful about when thinking in an
unbiased way. A poll taken by a Georgetown Islamic Studies professor stated that 1 in 3 Muslims
worldwide even believed the attacks on 9/11 were somewhat, largely, or completely
justified (Gelernter 2). This percentage of supporters is very shocking to many Americans lead
some to fear the entire Muslim Population. Another event that has more recently shocked the
world is the terrorist attacks on Paris. These attacks were again performed by Islamic extremists
and devastated an entire nation. These large terrorist attacks still loom large in many peoples
minds and lead to the opposition of Syrian refugees, largely of Islamic faith, being allowed to
freely enter U.S. borders.

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Moving on to the support behind allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S., focusing on the
idea that the U.S. has a moral obligation to help those in need. As stated on the plaque ordaining
the Statue of Liberty, one of our nations proudest monuments, Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send
these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me (http://www.howtallisthestatueofliberty.org/ 1). This
powerful quote exemplifies what many would consider to be an American virtue, that as a
powerful and rich nation, we are obligated to help those less fortunate. Throughout our nations
history, this virtue has been practiced, whether it be through preventing the spread of
communism, settling unrest in the Middle East, or the general peacekeeping we participate in
abroad.

As a country that prides itself on religious freedom and diversity, it is a crime to


discriminate against a group of people based on their religion. The U.S. was established so that
people could worship freely no matter the religion they practiced. As a democratic nation, our
laws are produced by the overall moral standing of the nation. This means we have the moral
obligation to continue to allow religious diversity in our country. According to Oxford Research
Encyclopedias, Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black wrote:
The establishment of religion clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state
nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion,
aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another [] No tax in any amount, large or small,
can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or
whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion [] In the words of Jefferson, the

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clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation
between Church and State (1). This was really the official beginning of separation of church and
state at a federal level. It means that the U.S. government can not make laws in favor of a
religion and more to the point of Syrian refugees, it can not discriminate against other religions.

As stated earlier, there is a violent civil war taking place in Syria at this moment. Other
world superpowers such as the ones in Europe are already taking mass amounts of the refugees.
In the modern world it is agreed upon that those in power must help the helpless and needy. Why
then is the worlds leading super power, the U.S., not helping these Syrian refugees yet?
According to some, we have the moral obligation to help those in need, and Syrian refugees are
in dire need. Learning from our own history, the U.S. has had an unfortunate past with separation
of cultures. Race relations prior to the Civil Rights Movement, and arguably still after, were
negatively affected by the U.S. government. Jim Crow laws were first put in place in 1664 by the
U.S. government. These laws restricted the civil rights of African-Americans, and promoted
racial segregation within society. They remained in place for just over 300 years when they came
to an end in 1967, when the last segregation law banning interracial marriages was declared
unconstitutional (Kousser 479). The long-standing segregation of African-American citizens
from white citizens has been a more recent event in our countrys history, and is still relevant to
this day, as civil rights activists and movements are continuing to work through years of
discrimination and racial tensions and their effects on modern society. When the Civil Rights
Movements during the 1950s were in full motion, it was considered both a moral and political
issue to settle differences and to calm tensions. This is similar to how the issue of allowing

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Syrian refugees into our country involves both political and moral input. Learning from past
history is something the U.S. prides itself in. One of the leading supports to not allowing Syrian
refugees into the U.S. is that their religion might be dangerous is a very similar case to the
stereotypes that were held against African Americans before the civil rights movement.

In closing, this essay has shown several ideas supporting the allowance of Syrian
refugees into the U.S. and several ideas that support the blocking of Syrian refugees into the U.S.
and overall that the crisis is more complex than it may seem at a glance. The support for allowing
them into our borders was mainly built with the idea that we have a moral obligation to help the
poor and needy. The main opposition towards letting Syrians into our country was focused on as
the idea that the refugees would bring with them an increase in terrorism and violence. There are
many more aspects to this issue as it is becoming such a large and relevant topic of debate in our
country today but these ideas discussed bring a large portion of the debate to light. After research
and conclusive evidence it is clear to me that the U.S. shouldnt allow Syrian refugees into the
U.S.. The evidence of large amounts of Muslims supporting terrible acts such as 9/11 and sharia
law show that their religions teachings are truly taken to heart. I believe that it is still difficult to
go through with these extreme acts and that is why they are still limited in the areas where
Muslims are minorities such as Europe and America but as they become majorities it is easier to
do things the majority believes in. This is not to say that every Muslim or Syrian refugee believes
in this but as a country great care needs to be taken in protecting its people from a group that
statistically supports violence towards others for the simple reason of being different.

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Works Cited
Fantz, Ashley, and Ben Brumfield. "Syrian Refugees Not Welcome in 31 U.S. States."

CNN.

Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Jan. 2016.


Josh Gelernter. "Obama's Bad Math on Islamic Terrorism." National Review Online. N.p., 21
Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.
Green, Steven K. "Separation of Church and State in the United States - American History:
Oxford Research Encyclopedias." Separation of Church and State in the United
States -

American History: Oxford Research Encyclopedias. Oxford Research

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Dec. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.

"How Tall Is the Statue of Liberty?" What Is the Quote on the Statue of Liberty? N.p., n.d. Web.
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Kirschbaum, Erik. "Germany Pledges to Act after Mass Sexual Attacks on Women on New
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Kousser, J. Morgan. "Jim Crow Laws." Dictionary of American History 4 (2003): 479-480.
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Lipka, Michael. "Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.S. and around the World." Pew
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U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Office of Admissions - Refugee Processing
Center. Refugee Arrivals Calendar Year as of 14-March-2016. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Web. 14
Mar. 2016.
Yourish, Karen, K. K. Rebecca, and Derek Watkins. "How Syrians Are Dying." The New York
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