“It was a dry cold night, and the wind blew keenly, and the frost was white and hard. A man would die tonight of lying out on the marshes, I thought. And then I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.” ― Charles Dickens
Say what you want about the Syrian refugee crisis, but you can’t deny the suffering of innocent men, women, and children.
By escaping their war torn land, they look for hope in the rest of the world. Who wants to live in a war zone? Who wants to raise their child in such a place? You can’t blame the Syrians for wanting safety and hope.
Oh, and not wanting to die. That’s pretty important, wouldn’t you say?
So what’s the deal with letting the refugees into our vibrant economy? Are we that afraid of foreigners? Is xenophobia that rampant? It definitely explains part of it. But what about the rest of it?
Well, I’m going to say we’ve lost sight of reality. We’ve let our emotions take control. This is where doing a simple cost-benefit analysis does wonders. It removes the emotional aspect, focusing solely on the facts.
The Cost Benefit Analysis of Letting in Syrian Refugees
Talk to any American about the Syrian refugee crisis and several worries will come up: terrorism, financial costs, “muh jobs,” and the process to allow refugees in. Those are the big worries.
Now, let’s run those issues through a cost-benefit analysis, and see if they stand up to reality.
- Potential for Terrorism? 859,629 refugees have been admitted into the US since 2001. Of those, only 3 have been convicted of planning a terrorist attack. The minuscule amount of refugee terrorists is thanks to the strict process that refugees have to go through.
- Process for letting them in? Here’s an article outlining what it takes to be let into the US as a refugee. Note that there’s a difference between those seeking asylum and refugees. Asylum seekers have an easier process and are usually in the country while the process is taking place. Refugees are don’t get to come over until they’ve been approved. The average processing time for refugees is 18 – 24 months.
- Benefits? Immigrants are always a boom to the economy. Also, letting in refugees helps them not be radicalized in refugee camps (where the likelihood of radicalization is higher). Refugees are sent all over the US, which helps with assimilation. They also can’t get subsidized housing, and they have to pay back their plan ticket. Getting a job is required for a refugee entering the United States.
- Past results of letting in Syrian refugees? Including all refugees from 1975-2015, 3,252,493 have been let into the US. In 2014, the US accepted 69,933 In 2015, the US accepted 1,682 Syrian refugees.
For more information check out Refugee Processing Center’s arrival reports, 8 facts about the US Syrian resettlement program, how much the US spends on refugees. Additionally, this study by the Center for Immigration Studies goes into the cost of resettling Middle Eastern refugees. This information demonstrates that Syrian refugees will not cause an immigration crisis.
Drop Your Emotional Biases, Please?
Emotional bias affects us all. Yes, I know you’re a conservative, libertarian, or Republican. You’re not guided by emotions, you’re guided by facts. Right?
Wrong! This is politics. We’re all inundated with headlines of dead refugees, or people killed at the hands of refugees. Those stories create an emotional response in you, eventually becoming a facet of your views.
Saying things like, “You want a Paris attack to happen?” is emotional. It ignores the basic logic and very low likelihood of such an attack occurring.
Conclusion: Recognize the Cost & Benefits, But don’t Forget to Sympathize
“My own experience and development deepen everyday my conviction that our moral progress may be measured by the degree in which we sympathize with individual suffering and individual joy.” – George Eliot
Throughout this article, I’ve told you to push aside your emotional biases. “Focus on the facts,” I have said. But let’s not forget to sympathize. People are suffering. That’s the simplest explanation for the Syrian refugee crisis.
Yes, the threat of terrorism from the refugees is small. Yes, we have a strong process for letting refugees in. Yes, refugees have to find a job and pay back their flight. Yes, we’ve let in a considerable amount so far and it’s all gone smoothly. However, facts alone don’t make reality.
The reality is, people are hurting and our nation is more than able to help. I am not saying you should put yourself in their shoes. “What would you do if you were in their position” isn’t necessary for deciding what to do. Understanding what living in their shoes looks (and feels) like is necessary in the decision process. It keeps you from being a cold emotionless bureaucrat.
Sympathy keeps reality in check. Sympathy isn’t emotional. It’s a realization of what these people are going through. Unlike Europe, we can control the flow of refugees. We can assimilate them. We can show them the beauty of a vibrant capitalist economy, and a government that won’t gas them.
Look at this as an opportunity to help others with the very systems you and I champion. This is an opportunity to bring freedom to more people. It can be done, and done safely.
So what do you think? Is letting in refugees worth it? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Tell me what you think in the comments below.