Sunday, November 22, 2015

Experiencing the Plight of Refugees

By Gary Berg-Cross
When did refugees become terrorists? Or at least some are like "rabid dogs" - see Ben Carson talks of 'rabid dogs': US refugee debate descends into ugliness.

To say the least the idea of letting scores of Middle eastern (think Syrian, no think Muslim refugees) into the US has stirred up nationalist and xenophobic  emotions. It doesn't help that there are politics and religion involved at times too. Consider:

GOP Politicians Rejecting Refugees Sound Like Racist Internet Trolls (RollingStone) or

Data Show Links Between Fear of Terrorist Attacks, Anti-Muslim Bias

Hate crimes against Muslims are up this year, despite a general trend downward for all such crimes. (US News and World Report) or

What the Republicans now rejecting Syrian refugees would have said about Jews a century ago. (Haaretz)

Sure there is some fact checking such US News’ 8 Facts About the U.S. Program to Resettle Syrian Refugees (or the Guardian) where we  learn such things as “refugees have to pay back the money for the plane ticket that brings them to the U.S and how “Refugees are subject to Department of Homeland Security background checks before arriving in the U.S.Checks to enter take 18-24 months and include the collection of biometric data, security checks, interviews and background investigations, but also “Refugees are processed in conjunction with nine nonprofits, not solely by the government.” (and there is even more at Vox on how few Syrian refugees have been allowed in.)

On the USNews site you can see where refugees since 2011 have bee settled – 25 are in Baltimore, while 115 are in Houtson.
Since a Syrian passport was reportedly found near one of the assailants in the Paris terror attacks there is heightened fears that Islamic State group terrorists could or are exploit(ing) refugee routes and resettlement programs as a way to prepare for later attacks. And on Thursday, the House passed a bill that would impose additional security measures on refugees from Syria and Iraq. But...

You can read critical articles like “The Big Logical Error Made By Everyone Linking Syrian Refugees To The Paris Attack” which asserts “All the perpetrators of the mass murder in Paris who have been identified are European nationals from France and Belgium.”

The Washington Post added that a passport was found near the slain body of one of the terrorists. It was issued to Ahmad Almohammad, a 25-year-old Syrian national, by officials in Greece on October 4. He had arrived a day earlier on a boat carrying migrants from Turkey. Some view this as evidence that one of the terrorists was a refugee. Authorities, however, have determined that the passport is fake. On Tuesday, November 17, Syrian officials arrested another man at a refugee camp who carried a forged passport with the exact same information. It is now unclear if he is involved in the case.
                                      From inquisitr

It seems unlikely that facts alone may not be determinative with this type of group concern meets a panic reaction for a while. Given political campaigns we are more likely to hear stagements from Republican presidential candidates like Chris Christie who has said his state will not take in any refugees – “not even orphans under the age of five”. Or Carlie Fiorina says 'vast majority' of Syrian refugees are able bodied young men. (Boo says Politifacat)

But perhaps getting a more personal experience with what refugees experience might provide a richer, human experience. Just last year a movie dramatizing the experience of the Lost Boys of Sudan provides one such theatrical experience that on what US resettlement is like and what some refugees go through before, during and after resettlement. This includes the chill imposed by 9/11 and the plight of families trying to reunite during a freeze in immigration. The story has a Christian immigrant view of things, but the experience is more general given who the real life actors are.

Orphaned by the brutal Civil war in Sudan that began in 1983, these young victims traveled as many as a thousand miles on foot in search of safety. Fifteen years later, a humanitarian effort would bring 3600 lost boys and girls to America

The main characters are played by actual refugees—two of whom we learn were child soldiers.  They are the focus with” uninflected, authoritative performances.” compensate for the feel-good simplifications of (the) script.  

If you want to feel a bit of what child refugees got through in war, what it is like to be torn from family and culture you can watch this movie and along the way learn a bit about a connection to Mark Twain via Huck Finn explain the nature of a Good Lie.

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