Ethical Dilemma: Should America Close Its Doors to Syrian Refugees?

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Would you welcome Syrian refugees to your town after the Paris attacks?

The Paris attacks on November 13, 2015 shocked the world almost to its very core. An act of terrorism that killed and destroyed the lives of many people – more than 100 dead and more than 300 injured – the attacks were unexpected and is considered to be one of the worst since World War II.

The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attacks, of which a snippet of the declaration is below:

In a blessed battle whose causes of success were enabled by Allah, a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate (may Allah strengthen and support it) set out targeting the capital of prostitution and vice, the lead carrier of the cross in Europe-Paris…Thus, they were truthful with Allah — we consider them so — and Allah granted victory upon their hands and cast terror into the hearts of the crusaders in their very own homeland.

Following the attacks, governments around the world acted immediately to deal with the aftermath, and one of the findings was quite striking: a Syrian refugee who was recently accepted into Europe was one of the seven terrorists. Another is suspected to have entered Greece as a refugee months prior to the attack.

As you can imagine, fear has spread among citizens of countries such as the UK, Germany, and the US – among others. After all, they have been opening their borders to Syrian refugees whose plight is more than pitiful.

ethical dilemma syrian refugees

The US has more than its fair share of immigrants and refugees, many with the hopes of achieving permanent resident status (with the help of professionals such as a Green Card attorney, non-profit organizations, and government institutions) or citizenship.

Now, the people and governments are leaning towards closing their doors to Syrian refugees. In the US, for example, citizens have voiced out their position: no refugees. In Allentown, the third-largest city in Pennsylvania to have a Syrian population, residents believe refugees shouldn’t be let in.

Some US Governors have gone further and officially refused to accept refugees from Syria.

Then there is the faction which believes that refusing the refugees won’t contribute to stopping acts of terrorism.

Anne Speckhard, director of International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, provides a valid argument:

“Why would an ISIS terrorist sit and wait to be a refugee for three years to get into the US, when they could get a radicalized European citizen and fly here on a visa waiver and then live here under the radar?”

With this mix of ideologies – open doors and fear of terrorists, especially after 911 and the Paris attacks – America is split.

As an American – or a citizen of any other country, for that matter – this situation poses an ethical dilemma. On the one hand, there is the possibility of radicals entering countries posing as refugees and then engaging in acts of terrorism. On the other hand, many immigrants and refugees have left their countries to start anew and live a peaceful life.

Having said all that, this brings me back to my original question. Should America close its doors to refugees? What do you think?


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