Finding a new home

War torn countries are forcing people to abandon their homes. See what students think about the issue


Illustration by Ivan Benavides

William Deckler, Contributing Writer

Your home country is all that you know. It’s where you were raised, where you’ve loved and where you feel safe. But what happens when you’re forced to leave?

War, violence and terror continues and that sense of safety is taken from you.

You’re afraid for your life, for your loved ones and you don’t know where to go.        

You are forced to flee into the unknown and the risk it may hold.

This is the life of a Syrian refugee.

The ongoing civil war in Syria has caused millions of innocent children, women and men across the world to be driven away from a place they once called home.

According to World Vision International — a humanitarian aid organization — 13.5 million people in Syria need assistance. There are 4.3 million who are registered refugees, while 6.6 million are displaced within Syria, as half are children.

Under the criticism that the United States was hardly taking in those desperate to escape other countries, President Barack Obama proposed to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.

The concern has become a highly partisan debate as leading Republican and Democratic candidates in the upcoming election took a hawkish approach to Obama’s proposal in the wake of recent terrorist attacks.

Soon after the Paris attacks, a passport belonging to a Syrian refugee was found with one of the suspects. It was unclear whether it was real, but the trafficking of forged or stolen Syrian passports has increased significantly in refugees and migrants.

Nonetheless, the American response was swift.

Among those worried about more refugees settling in the U.S. right now is junior journalism major Courtney Greene. She explains that refugees as a whole aren’t dangerous and that most of them just want to get out, but dangerous people could be traveling with them and that may not be worth the risk.

“These people are human and they deserve a right to a safe and free life as much as anybody else but there is a much larger risk to our country as a whole with possible Isis members posing as refugees,” she said.

“When our country is at a heightened state of risk, strong matters and actions need to be put into place to keep the citizens of this country safe, first.”

Greene suggested that security and screenings should be strengthened in order to safely accept refugees into our country. “There is no way of making sure every person who is fleeing to America has good intentions when we are allowing them in, thousands at a time. Extensive background checks are a must so we can identify who exactly is coming into this country.”

At least 31 state governors including Florida’s Rick Scott stated that they would not be willing to accept any more refugees from Syria in the trail of terrorist attacks. According to the State Department, Florida is one of six states that has housed the most Syrian refugees since 2011.

In his press conference at the G20 Turkey Leaders Summit in November, President Obama said “America is the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to displaced persons and refugees.”

White House officials are now lifting the cap on annual refugees in order to take in an extra 45,000 migrants by 2018, Secretary of State John Kerry announced this year.

Yehudah Rodman, another FAU student, believes Obama’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. has an obvious risk of terrorist infiltration and puts a burden on the government to thoroughly vet them.

“We have a strong moral obligation to protect suffering people, but the government will have its hands full ensuring that American citizens won’t be put in harm’s way,” he said.

Rodman explains that the big problem for governors vowing to reject refugees in their states is that it’ll probably be impossible.

“Immigration falls under jurisdiction of the federal government, so I don’t see how a state would be able to reject refugees. They may attempt to withhold some resources in the refugee resettlement process, but that’ll probably be challenged in court.”

Before refugees arrive in South Florida, or any other location, they must apply for resettlement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office.

If it’s determined that resettlement is a better solution, the U.N. will refer individuals and families to countries taking in refugees. If applicants pass a series of background checks and interviews, they will be permitted to enter a country for resettlement.

“The government’s first responsibility is the protection of their own citizens. A proper and secure vetting system must be in place before any refugees may enter,” said Rodman.

The 26-year-old says that the recent attacks have brought to the forefront of the Syrian refugee ordeal.

“Isis combatants will pose as refugees in order to attack Western countries. We must be vigilant in stopping this from occurring on our shores, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing what is right.”

Republican candidates attack Obama’s proposal as they have become increasingly skeptical of the risks Syrian refugees may pose. Democratic candidates struggle to navigate between supporting Obama’s strategy and coming up with their own ways of promising action.

Donald Trump, front-runner Republican presidential candidate, would restrict all Muslims coming into the country without being properly vetted, temporarily. Despite the criticism and media uproar his remarks received, his lead has only increased since he called for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Hillary Clinton, front-runner Democratic presidential candidate, has a viewpoint similar to Obama’s. She is willing to accept up to 65,000 Syrian refugees and proposes a “no fly zone” with a proper screening and vetting system behind it.