On Accepting Syrian Refugees into America
Debate Rounds (5)
The threat of terrorism, not since forgotten after the attacks of September 11th, has re-emerged on the global stage as a major concern specifically to Western Culture and its people. The Syrian refugee crisis, as heartbreaking as it might be, threatens the American people by helping to expand the reach of terrorism on an international level through two major channels: the first is that terrorists and the like could pass through the protective net of background checks that we use as a first line of defense; the second, by abandoning their state, the people leave its fate in the hands of the major parties at play there. With millions of people fleeing from the sweeping hand of terrorism, they only work to engorge it by feeding into the idea that terrorist groups such as ISIS are more powerful than they seem and that they have the power to force such a large number of people from their domiciles just by the very thought of them. The United States, on a short-term basis and a long-term basis, would be better off denying entrance of Syrian refugees into the country to negate the allowance of covert, domestic terrorism as well as in order to better restore political stability to the region without an interventionist policy.
It is estimated by human rights groups that up to 50% of the population of Syria is currently displaced. This does not mean that they have voluntarily fled. In most instances, the displaced have been forcibly driven from their homes, whether by ideological groups such as ISIS or by pro-government forces in the civil war that has been ongoing since 2011.
Let us consider two possible outcomes of turning away asylum seekers, from the United States and other Western countries. The first outcome is that the civilians return to their home countries, and are killed by ideological groups or pro-government forces. In this instance, the conflict is only further inflamed: ideological groups can use those deaths to further assert their own power in the region, as well as inspire terror in those who are forced to remain in their home countries.
The second outcome is that the civilians return to their home countries and are pressed into service in either pro-government forces or ideological armies. The armed groups are then bolstered, the fighting intensifies, and the region is further destabilized.
These are not the only possible primary outcomes of the US and other Western countries refusing entry to Syrian asylum seekers, they are simply the most likely.
In conclusion, refusing entry to Syrian asylum seekers due to concerns about our vetting process is not a response based in rationality. It is a response based in fear. This is exactly the response that ideological groups, like ISIS, are trying to elicit in otherwise powerful nations like the US. Further, sending hundreds of thousands of civilians back to their war-torn home countries - and into the arms of violent ideological groups - will not bring either short-term or long-term stability to the Middle East. To believe that it will requires a willful ignorance of both current facts and historical lessons.
Let us first redefine the term "refugee" to "asylum seeker" as this term is more clear about referring to persons who have not received refugee status for a state. The initial term of refugee should only be used when referring to a person who has already received refugee status in a state other than their own. This lack of clarity on the initial terms was my fault and I apologize. This definition comes from the following website:
On the subject of the vetting process. It is very clear that the outline for entry of refugees into the United States is very thorough as seen on this easy-to-follow graphic organizer:
However, the concern from this side of the argument is not in the theory but in the practice. When a government system, such as the VA, has a fundamental flaw in its process, it is not so easily fixed within a respectable time limit. Your argument warrants that everyone in the process is invested into it and that there is no ability for misstep. It is unclear whether an asylum seeker can slip through the cracks. Further, it appears that the data gathered as only compared, when discussing terror specific criteria, to known terrorists and their associates. It is unclear whether the vetting system has the ability to sufficiently turn away persons who, having only recently pledged themselves to the cause of terrorism and not having participated an any significant terrorist activities, might be able to fly under the radar. These persons who have a clean slate could integrate into society and either offer a channel through which the domestic but foreign-threat based terrorism could expand or a channel through which a sleeper agent could enter onto U.S. soil.
On the subject of the two outcomes. In the fifth paragraph, the two possibilities you presented earlier are stated to not be the only two possibilities but the most likely. I agree that these are not the only possible outcomes; however, I do not agree that they are the most likely. They are the most likely when one considers that the U.S. turn back asylum seekers and then issue an isolationist approach to the situation. However, if the U.S. but more effort, not in the manner of interventionism that is associated with the Iraq War, but through assistance to local constituents, into the re-stabilization of the region, through special forces, air strikes, military support, and cultural relief efforts, the asylum seekers which are turned away can be supported to, through their own means, restabalize the region.
Though I did not address it in my first argument, there is also the economic stress that such a large influx of migrants could have on the receiving states. I am not an expert in this area nor do I have enough general knowledge to comment sufficiently on the issue, on to offer a rebuttal. If you so desire we may discuss this issue. I hardly view that as necessary as I believe that a state should never give up on morals in place of money and the United States could support its share of the estimated 4 million refugees without a total economic depression.
If such a flaw is present, then it would stand to reason that dangerous persons have already entered the US under the guise of good faith asylum seekers - that is, they have attained refugee status. It would follow that there would then be documented attacks by refugees in those states where refugees have settled.
The article posted is useful for its reporting on the number of refugees taken in by the state of Texas, rather than its reporting on the current political climate. In the article, it shows that the state of Texas has taken in over 41,000 refugees since 2010. They currently have the largest population of Syrians fleeing the current crisis of any state in the nation (250.) However, no terrorist attacks committed by Syrian refugees have been reported, either in Texas or in any of the other states that have accepted such refugees. In fact, while many European countries have accepted tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into their borders, there has been no proportional surge of terrorist attacks carried out by "sleeper agents" hidden among those refugees. The most high-profile terrorist attack carried out since the onset of the crisis - the attacks in Paris in 2015 - were not carried out by anyone in the refugee population, but by radicalized citizens. The stated goal of these attacks - perpetrated by ISIS - was to inspire fear in those countries that were committed to taking in refugees.
Naturally, taking in the 10,000 displaced Syrians that President Obama has committed to might increase the likelihood of both "sleeper agents" and retaliatory attacks by ISIS. However, if our policy is to oppose ISIS and its goals, is it in keeping with that policy to turn away asylum seekers out of fear, thus acting exactly as ISIS wishes Western nations to act? Our national response cannot be based on a hypothetical worst case scenario. It must be grounded in probabilities, in known benefits versus known detriments. In this case, a known benefit would be in opposing the stated goal of ISIS - to inspire fear of refugees.
The US has taken most of the actions that you recommend in your argument against my two outcomes. The US military has participated in air strikes, in supplying arms to groups that we believed were allies, in providing aid to Syrians affected by the violence. In each of these cases, the effect of our intervention has been either ineffectual or unwittingly aided the armed groups. Air strikes further displace civilians, as well as provide images of civilian "collateral damage" to be used by our enemies against us in propaganda campaigns. Arms shipments to rebel groups have ended up almost entirely in the hands of ideological groups, like ISIS. Civilian aid has been almost completely ineffectual, as hundreds of thousands continue to flee the country.
It is important to note that it is unclear whether it is the policies or the implementation of the policies that has been ineffectual or counteractive to our goals. But, it is more important to note that our "mild intervention" has failed to produce any worthwhile results. This has historical precedent. In the Vietnam conflict, as well as the very recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the stated goal was for minimal direct involvement by US forces; that is, that the majority of the aid would be provided by air strikes, special forces, civilian aid, and military "advisers." In each case, that aid became a deeper military commitment, costing significant financial resources and the lives of American military members. While it is not the purpose of this debate, it could be argued that it was our history of good intentions and military involvement in the Middle East that indirectly led to the current crisis.
Our efforts at stabilizing the region through direct or indirect military aid have proved either ineffectual or disastrous. There is no evidence that our vetting system is incapable of preventing terrorists from entering the country, other than hypothetical worst case scenarios that have little basis in fact. If we are to strive for a measured response that avoids both isolationism and extreme interventionism, the best response is to welcome 10,000 displaced persons into the United States.
Taking from the provided article, and without further contradictory evidence, it seems clear to me that there is no current statistical evidence to support a causation from the admittance of Syrian refugees causing a rise in domestic based, but foreign aided, terrorism.
Beyond the humanitarian aspects of President Obama to admit said 10,000 Syrian refugees, it is also evident that such an act has provided physical evidence as to the safety of the vetting process and thus the importance of allowing Syrian refugees asylum in the United States.
On the subject of America's role in the Middle East; that is an entirely different subject which would delineate the argument from the given prompt. I would however hope, that someday in the future, we could discuss those aspects of American foreign relations.
On the subject of the debate; I congratulate you on convincing me, through solid logic and statistical evidence, that Syrian refugees should be allowed into the country after they undergo the vetting process.
I believe that the argument has been completed and hereby forfeit my future responses.
Thank you for an excellent and engaging argument.
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