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Raven Johnson

October 21 2016
Accepting Refugees
It seems that everyday there are new stories in
the news about terror attacks. In just the past year
there have been shootings, bombings, and other acts
of violence in cities like Paris, Nice, San Bernardino,
New York, and New Jersey, to name a few. All of the
suspects in these horrible acts have been linked to
the terror organization ISIS. With so many of these
incidents happening in such a short period of time, it
is easy to understand why some would be scared of
the religion that these terrorists claim to-Islam. This
has caused many Americans to be opposed to the
idea of accepting the Muslim refugees that are
seeking asylum here. When you look at the facts, you
can see that refugees are actually more beneficial
than dangerous.
For someone to seek refuge in the United
States, there is an extremely thorough vetting
process they must go through. A article by
Alex Altman explains how the vetting works; asylum
seekers must go through in-depth interviews, home
country reference checks and even iris scanning to
even apply for refuge. After that the U.S. conducts its
own screening process which includes consultation
from nine different government agencies [who] meet
weekly to review a refugees case. This process can
take months or even years while the refugee and
their family bounce between refugee camps where
the conditions are poor and safety is not guaranteed.
The United States is very careful about who they let
in, and those that make it here are peaceful families

who just want to feel safe like the rest of us. They are
fleeing from the very organization that so many
Americans are afraid of- they are not a part of it. Alex
Nowrasteh of Cato Institute, a public policy research
organization, explains that only three out of the
859,629 refugees that have come here between
2001 and November 2015 were convicted of
terrorism planning, and none actually carried out
those plans. On a rare occurrence
though, in December 2015, 14
people were killed and 22 injured
in San Bernardino, California in a
terrorist attack by a couple with
ties to Jihad organizations. After
this attack, Muslim leaders
condemned the act, and one Muslim-American nonprofit group, Minds, run by Faisal Qazi, raised over
$190,000 for the victims. It is extremely rare for
something like this to happen in the United States
and the entire Muslim community cannot be held
accountable for this couples actions. In cases like
this it is easy to see how people would immediately
associate all Muslims with radicalism, but the FBI
says that Muslims have actually been helpful in
reporting suspicions of radicalism.
Contrary to what many may believe, Islam is a
peaceful religion. Its core beliefs and teachings are
not much different than any other religion; love
others and do no harm. 1.6 billion people in the world
are Muslims and of those, only a small number are
Jihads, or extremists. To blame the entire religion for
the actions of few would be like saying that all
Christians are violent racists because of the actions

of the KKK, a self proclaimed Christian

Its no wonder though, that people have a
misconstrued idea of Islam. The only media portrayal
that Muslims get in the West tends to be negative.
An article from the Journal of Social Issues titled
Uncertainty, Threat, and the Role of the Media in
Promoting the Dehumanization of Immigrants and
Refugees goes into detail about this unfair depiction
of the religion and its followers. Authors Esses,
Medianu, and Lawson explain, The media may take
advantage of this uncertainty to create a crisis
mentality in which immigrants and refugees are
portrayed as 'enemies at the gate' who are
attempting to invade Western nations. Although it
has been suggested that such depictions promote
the dehumanization of immigrants and refugees,
there has been little direct evidence for this claim.
When the only images you get of a religion are
purposefully made to incite fear, it creates a culture
of hostility and hate, which is exactly what we see
happening in the United States.
Despite all this information, 43 percent of
[Americans] say large numbers of immigrants and
refugees pose a critical threat to the country,
according to a paper by Howard LaFranchi. I talked to
a neighbor who has expressed these fears before to
try and understand more about what makes people
so against the idea of our country providing
hospitality to victims of war. Im not just afraid that
were letting terrorists in, says Matt Johnson, an
outspoken opponent of accepting refugees, our
government is spending money to allocate potential
threats into our country, instead of on its own

citizens. They are going to take money that should

be spent on things like our veterans and social
security. Its actually been shown that refugees
benefit the economies of the communities that they
are placed into, which brings in more money and
taxes, which do go toward supporting veterans and
social security. They bring skill sets with them and
are ready to work. The Refugee Employment sector
of the Utah Department of Workforce services, who
work directly with refugees describe them as
dependable, loyal workers who are eager for jobs and
highly adaptable. According to an article Are
Refugees an Economic Burden or Benefit? by Roger
Zetter, one study done on Dadaab refugee camp
showed that the host community benefited from $14
million USD brought into their economy.
Its been shown time and time again that
refugees pose a small threat, if any. There is a
grueling process they must go through to even make
it here, and once they do, they are efficient members
of the community and workforce. Perhaps the only
real justification for fear is because of the unfair
media portrayal of people who are different from us,
but that can easily be disproven when you look
deeper than just what is shown on the TV. Even more
than the lack of threat and the economic benefits,
isnt it our moral obligation to provide safety and
shelter to the men, women, and children who have
faced unfathomable tragedy?

Peter Hindmarsh, Flickr