Rutgers professors weigh in on Syrian crisis


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Photo by © Khalil Ashawi / Reuters |

Rebel fighters from the Ahrar al-Sham Islamic Movement take positions inside a building in Jabal al-Arbaeen, which overlooks the northern town of Ariha, one of the last government strongholds in the Idlib province May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi


The Syrian refugee crisis is not migrating from the international agenda anytime soon, and as the crisis escalates, the world is looking to America for a solution.

To date, the largest United States quota request for housing refugees has come from the International Rescue Committee (IRC), announcing that the U.S. should house 100,000 refugees in the coming year, according to newsweek.com.

David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said the U.S. was offering “cold comfort” with its initial offer to house 2,000 Syrian refugees, according to rescue.org.

Obama has since increased the offer to house 10,000 refugees.

“I think that the 10,000 refugees currently in camps in Lebanon and Jordan — the ones that the President wants to admit — is a manageable number,” said Ross Baker, a professor in the Department of Political Science. 

The current U.S. migration quota alone stands at 70,000 and is now offering a significant proportion of its capacity by accepting 10,000 refugees. Demands for the U.S. to take in numbers far exceeding 10,000 persist, while other nations, such as Germany, have committed to resettling up to 800,000 asylum seekers, according to CNN.

Eli Liebell-McLean, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and co-head delegate for Rutgers Model United Nations, said she is very much in favor of the U.S. housing 100,000 migrants, but does not expect they will all manage to secure lucrative employment here.

Gulbahor Saraeva, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, said developed countries should take in as many refugees as they can, according to the international customary law of non-refoulement.

The U.S. is providing greater support than some of Syria’s neighboring states, according to CNN, and not all Arab nations are doing their part. Developed Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE and Oman have not committed to housing any refugees.

Concern has increased recently, despite the crisis starting over two years ago. The surge in media coverage and public interest can largely be attributed to the tragic photo of the drowned Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi.

Gabriel Borger, a School of Engineering sophomore and co-head delegate for Rutgers Model United Nations, said the picture has definitely been a catalyst in the call for intervention.

“A million deaths is a statistic, a single death is a tragedy,” he said.

Social media has once again demonstrated its political clout in allowing for the proliferation of several images that significantly raised the profile of the issue.

“The images are graphic, and people have reacted to them with understandable sympathy,” Baker said.

This does not remove the problems of integrating a large number of refugees into U.S. and Europe, however worthy they may be, Baker said.

The threat to homeland security is also a point of contention in the discussion. 

Michael McCaul, the Homeland Security Committee chairman, expressed particular concern over ISIS and the potential for terrorists to sneak into the country, according to CBN.

In the case of housing 10,000 refugees, it may be tough, but not impossible, to vet the backgrounds of that many people, Baker said.

Saraeva, whose Ph.D. focuses on refugee crises, said humanitarian crises are always used for terrorists to sneak in and destabilize the host country.

There are examples from African countries and other parts of the world.

“But that’s no reason to deny protection to all refugees,” she said.

ISIS is estimated to have a membership of between 40,000 and 200,000 militants, according to The Independent. Middle Eastern countries facing the migrant crisis have a total population of 60 million.

“Statistically, even with high ISIS militant estimates and low country populations, it’s about a 0.33 percent chance an ISIS member enters the U.S.,” Borger said.

The threat of terrorists entering the U.S. under false pretenses is one the U.S. government needs to give serious consideration, he said.


Orla Francesca Lavery

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