Editorial: Let the Syrian refugees in



“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” says Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus.” Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty, this poem greeted millions of immigrants as they entered the country through Ellis Island in New York City.

These words, welcoming those who came to America in search of a better life, are a vital part of our American identity. Ours is a country built on religious acceptance, on taking in those who seek a new home, on being a “melting pot” where different cultures are embraced and celebrated.

This week, in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, this fabric of our American identity is being threatened.

What is happening in Syria is a refugee crisis that is affecting the entire world. As people flee the war-torn nation, nations across the globe must determine whether or not the moral imperative to help outweighs the security and societal risks that may come with an influx of refugees.

While the U.S. has only taken in 1,500 Syrian refugees since 2011, President Obama announced in September that 10,000 Syrians would be allowed entry into the United States by next year in response to the Syrian Civil War and the increasing presence of ISIS in the Middle East.

However, we have learned since the attacks in Paris on Friday that one of the suspects is believed to have entered Europe with the thousands of refugees. 

This has understandably led to fear that the same thing could happen with the influx of Syrian refugees into the United States. In turn, many of America’s governors are responding with a plan that goes against a bedrock of the country. As of this past Tuesday night, 32 of our nation’s governors have said that Syrian refugees are not welcome within their states.

This is the exact opposite of the response we should be having. 

The point of terrorism is to use attacks similar to what we saw in Paris, Beirut, and throughout the world in recent years to scare us into abandoning the things that make us who we are. This is why the common rhetoric after a terrorist attack is to not let acts of terror dictate how we live our lives. If that happens, they have achieved their goal.

If the United States continues down this path towards the rejection of Syrian refugees, we are succumbing to the terrorism put forth by ISIS. We are abandoning the values that make us the United States of America.

While we should absolutely make sure stringent background checks and security practices are in place, we should still accept these people. The pain we felt for the French people—our greatest, oldest allies—should be present for these Syrians as well.Our entire history is built by immigrants and their descendants, and we should look at these new people with the compassion and openness that are as integral to the United States as the Statue of Liberty itself.