US not living up to obligation to protect Syrian Refugees

US not living up to obligation to protect Syrian Refugees
US not living up to obligation to protect Syrian Refugees

If President Obama’s pledge to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees between October 1, 2015 and September 31, 2016 were proceeding according to plan, more than 6,600 such endangered persons would be in the United States.

In fact, according to the New York Times, only about 2,500 Syrian refugees have been allowed to come so far in this fiscal year. This shortfall comes at a time when many European countries have largely closed themselves off to new refugee arrivals.

The sad fact is that even as the humanitarian crisis, set off by the murderous civil war in Syria, deepens, the Western nations are retreating from their international law obligations to provide protections for these refugees. This shameful pullback from the obligations imposed by the United Nations Protocol Relating to Refugees began more than a year ago when politicians in Europe and the United States sought to exploit fears of Muslims to close off refugee protections for those fleeing ISIS and other terrorist groups.

The situation was exacerbated in the fall when the House of Representatives passed legislation intended to make it more difficult for Syrians to enter the United States.

State and local politicians have also tried to cash in on the growing fear of Syrians after three terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe.  Governors in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, all illegally attempted to ban the refugees from coming to their states. Even in New York, legislation has been introduced to track the refugees who are here.

Meanwhile, women and children are being prevented from coming here to assuage the prejudices too many Americans feel against Muslims.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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