Students thoughts on Syrian refugee crisis

Anisa Jibrell – News Writer

The Obama administration made a decision to raise the annual refugee visa limit to 85,000 by 2016 and 100,000 by 2017. This decision has pushed national security apprehensions to the forefront of public debate, and has raised questions as to whether or not America is doing its fair share.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 51 percent of Americans approve of the increase, and 45 percent of Americans do not. The increase was proposed in response to the Syrian refugee crisis that has displaced roughly four million Syrians over the span of a 4-year war, according to the UN Refugee Agency’s website.

Amid security concerns, students like biology major Ranya Hamada, urge Americans to refocus their attention on the bigger picture by being more welcoming towards the Syrian refugees.

“By being open and accepting—providing necessary resources, teaching them how to find a job, and how to learn English—it will help to facilitate their transition here,” said Hamada.

39-year-old education major, Frank Andruilli, recalls his life in Berlin, Germany. When the Berlin wall –a wall built by the German Democratic Republic that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989—fell in 1989, he said witnessed the way Eastern Europeans were treated, giving him a different perspective on life.

“I have a big passion for people that are in need, that have a leadership with a dictatorship type of atmosphere,” said Andruilli. “The US has always been helpful like that, in helping out and trying to be the big brother of the world.”

Andruilli demonstrated that passion in 1990, when the country of Romania was changing over leadership. One of Andruilli’s Boy Scout projects was to create care packages for orphans in Romania. He said it shocked him how even the most miniscule things could make the orphans happy.

“Basic things we take for everyday objects would make them happy,” said Andruilli. “So getting a letter, getting a pencil and paper to write, or a toy or something would make the kids smile.”

Aysha Younas, a psychology major, believes the security concerns do not outweigh the fact that there are so many refugees in need.

“They’re making excuses because it’s a vast amount,” said Younas. “I’m a very humanistic person, I see everyone as people and I feel like everyone creates these boundaries where they shouldn’t.”

America should make a better effort in welcoming people who come from other countries, because in general, other countries are always quick to accommodate Americans, said Younas, who is first generation with parents who emigrated from Pakistan.

“If you go to a different country no one is gonna say ‘learn the language,’” but in America people get really upset if you don’t know the language,” said Younas. “For example, if you work at a restaurant and you don’t understand what they’re saying, you get a lot of disrespect.”

She blames the public’s misconceptions towards Syrian refugees on mainstream media, and the stark contrast between how the refugee crisis is covered in comparison to American tragedies.

Younas said mainstream media shies away from showing pictures of crime scenes because “there’s an understanding that it’s bad,” but don’t reflect that understanding in the coverage of foreign countries like Syria.

“I felt so disgusted, why are you showing me a picture of a dead child? It bothers me so much,” said Younas. “You know when a kid dies, it’s bad. You don’t have to be shown that.”

Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai

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