If the United States is really the so-called “land of the free,” you’d expect legislation to push for more refugees to be accepted into the country. This would make sense considering this great country was almost exclusively built on immigrants from oppressed populations. President Obama announced on Sept. 10 that he wanted to increase the limit for Syrian refugees to the U.S. from a mere 5,000 to 10,000. This would raise the U.S. annual limit of 70,000 refugees coming from all over the world to 75,000. This is a good start, but far more refugees will need a safe place to live.
For starters, the BBC reported that the United Nations, over which the U.S. holds significant power, declared that “EU nations must accept up to 200,000 refugees as part of a ‘common strategy’ to replace their ‘piecemeal’ approach to the migrant crisis.” That’s a pretty big number, considering none of the European powers come close to having the same capacity that the U.S. has to integrate new migrants.
The U.S.’s efforts are already ridiculously inadequate next to the strain Europe has to face during this migrant crisis, but when you compare it to the Middle East, it becomes downright laughable.
The Intercept reported that “Jordan has taken 630,000 [refugees], many of whom languish in desert camps along the border with Syria. Another 1.8 million Syrians have settled in Turkey, which has no intention of providing permanent homes for either Kurds or Arabs from Syria. Astoundingly, 250,000 Syrians have fled to Iraq despite the war there.” It says something when 250,000 Syrians prefer going to a war-torn Iraq over staying in Syria. Also, Iraq is accepting Syrian refugees at a 50-to-1 rate compared to the U.S. Just think about that.
In this catastrophic scenario, one country has once again emerged as the example to follow in all refugee-related crises: Jordan, whose queen is a former Kuwait refugee from the first Gulf War. “Over the last 12 years, Jordan has become home to more than half a million Iraqis,” according to CNN. “Before the U.S.-led invasion and the Iraqi exodus of 2003, Jordan took in Palestinian refugees in 1948 and 1967. They were granted Jordanian citizenship, and today it is estimated that more than half of the country’s population is of Palestinian origin. More recently, Jordan’s stability in a turbulent region has once again turned the country into a sanctuary for those fleeing violence. Over the past four years, Jordan has opened its doors to 1.4 million Syrian refugees displaced by the civil war engulfing the country.”
Of course, this is not to say that this integration has happened without any problems. The U.N. has stopped sending aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan because it is low on cash, and Jordan’s economy is still suffering from the high influx of new refugees, a result of the wars in neighboring countries.
Before we raise our arms to the skies while chanting the merits of Obama’s new announcement to accept more refugees, let’s remind everyone that some countries in this region are the real heroes of the Syrian refugee crisis.
– MARCUS THUILLIER & AYAT AMIN