The United States currently leads the world in refugee resettlement yet could fall short in the case of the crisis in Syria. With more than two million Syrians fleeing the country and another 6.5 million displaced within Syria’s borders, this is quite possibly the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The demand for resettlement is huge.
In a Senate hearing on January 7, State Department Assistant Secretary Anne Richard stated that the United States expected to begin resettling more refugees, increasing referral acceptances to several thousand Syrians in 2014. Additionally, the United Nations a few weeks ago stated that the United States would be accepting around 30,000 vulnerable Syrians referred for resettlement.
Unfortunately, post-9/11 immigration laws may pose some difficulties.
Under U.S. laws, not all of these vulnerable individuals can be legally received. Those people who are considered to have given ‘material support’ in some form or other to rebels are considered to have possibly supported terrorism, even if the ‘material support’ was approved by the United States.
In this manner, Syrians who gave so much as a sandwich or a cigarette to a soldier fighting for the Free Syrian Army will not be accepted, according to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.
Human Rights First has called for the U.S. to resettle some 15,000 Syrians per year. While this perhaps should be feasible for the world’s leader of refugee resettlement, it is a particularly lofty goal for a country that will have a tough time finding Syrians with no connection to either side of the conflict.
As such, the United States is working on easing the anti-terrorism laws to some degree with respect to Syria in order to support the global effort to take in and support Syrian refugees.
The United Nations calculates that Syria has lost at least 35 years of human development from the multitude of tragedies that have occurred in the past three years. The strongest nation in the world should be doing more to work with the international community in aiding the victims of such devastating circumstance.
– Jaclyn Stutz