MANHATTAN -- Thousands of refugees are resettled into the United States and Tri-State area every single year. It is nothing new.
And yet, President Barack Obama’s recent announcement to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. has suddenly brought an outcry from some politicians, mostly Republican members of Congress and some presidential candidates.
Camille Mackler, the Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, works as an advocate for refugee and immigrant families. She said she was appalled by New York Congressman Peter King’s recent comments where he said opening our doors to refugees “American lives at risk”.
What’s worse, Mackler said is some of his comments are just plain false. For example, King said “We do not have the capability to vet these individuals nor will we be able to develop it in the next twelve months.”
“Completely untrue. We have had systems for years. Our immigration system has always incorporated asylum and protection for those fleeing persecution and fleeing harm. We have been processing refugees for years. We have up to 70,000 visas for refugees to be settled in the U.S. We do this every year,” said Mackler.
The vetting process is actually an intense one and can typically take up to two years. Refugees must meet the criteria and show they are actually a refugee, as defined under international law that they are unable or unwilling to return to their country and escaping persecution because of their political beliefs, race, religion, ethnicity or membership in a particular social group.
Another false statement?
King said, “we do not want another Boston Marathon Bombing,” implying the Tsarnaev brothers were refugees.
Mackler calls it a wide generalization.
The Tsarnaev’s, were in fact not refugees. Their father came to the U.S. and applied for asylum. The Tsarnaev brothers were both minors -- only about 8 and 15 years old when they came to the U.S.
“We are not bringing in terrorists. It is just fear mongering and trying to use hateful violent rhetoric to make a political point and that’s just not who we are as Americans,” said Mackler.
Some humanitarian groups and refugee organizations, like the International Rescue Committee are going as far as to say 10,000 isn’t even enough. They, instead, want to the see U.S. resettle 100,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. As drastic as it sounds, it’s clear the situation for refugee families is dire some parts of Europe.
Images like these now flood the evening news, though the Syrian conflict has gone on for several years.
If you’re looking for ways to help, please visit www.rescue.org/blog/how-to-help-refugees-refugees-faq