There are a lot of memes and posts going around social media relating to the recent US travel ban (then un-ban?) from 7 countries that are only really accomplishing gaining support from those who already agree with your opinion.
In brief summary:
- The first argument is that these refugees are a danger to our country’s safety. They’re coming here to harm us and do not share the same values. We need to make sure these people aren’t dangerous and their inconvenience at the airport is worth it for our safety. If you love refugees so much, why don’t you invite one to your home?
- The second argument is sharing story after story of all the people this ban is harming: handcuffed children, a baby stopped from coming here for much needed surgery, a blind man who had his medicine taken away, interpreters who helped the military turned away, and so on. These people are fleeing a war and we need to HELP them and care about them.
I think all Americans need to learn more about refugees. Who are they and where exactly do they come from? Don’t look for another Facebook meme to validate your fear of something that might not even be true. Don’t share another story of refugees detained at the airport. Not everyone is afraid of foreigners and not everyone is going to care as much, especially if they haven’t the faintest idea how anyone gets here to begin with. The best place to turn to is the evidence. The facts. Not the alternative facts. This will put the situation into perspective.
Presenting evidence #1~~~
Take a look at the above chart. This will add some numbers to the situation.
- 53% of refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. Somalia and Syria are on the 7 banned countries list, so that is 6 million people. Afghanistan, 2.7 million refugees, is not on the list.
- 65.3 million people are displaced worldwide while only 12% are hosted in the Americas. Notice the plural, so this number includes hosts countries in all of North and South America.
- Top hosting countries: The United States does not even make the TOP 6.
This next chart is a good one for an overview of how refugees come to the United States. As you can see, no they are not running from an airstrike on their city and straight to the airport. No, bad guys aren’t shooting at them and then sneaking into the masses and onto the planes headed for our airports.
- While waiting overseas, refugees wait up to 2 years for the vetting process to be completed.
- Please refer to the evidence #1 chart above this one. That data is from 2015. All of those refugees, the 6 million from the 2 banned countries of Somalia and Syria, are still currently in the vetting process if they are trying to get into the United States.
- The US has resettled over 3 million refugees since 1975. Fear of refugees, where have you been all this time?
- In the 2016 fiscal year, not even half of refugees resettled in the US came from the Middle East.
The following information is from US Department of Health & Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. Fiscal Year 2015
- From the 7 countries on the travel ban list, 27,851 refugees were resettled.
- Iraq 12,608… Somalia 8,852… Iran 3,099… Syria 1,693… Sudan 1,576… Yemen 23… Libya 0.
- The US resettled 69,933 refugees in this year. 39.8% of these refugees came from countries as part of the travel ban executive order.
- The other 60.2%?
- Burma 18,318… Democratic Republic of the Congo 7,823… Bhutan 5,530… Eritrea 1,576… Cuba 1,526… Ukraine 1,454… Burundi 1,218… Ethiopia 646… Russia 301.
- There are more refugees from Egypt (14), a country not on the banned list, than there are from Libya (0).
- That machete attack in Paris, at the underground Louvre shopping mall, was done by an Egyptian. There are multiple sources for this, but here is Fox News.
Similar to 2015, here is some data for the 2016 numbers.
How does the process of resettlement in the US work once the refugees are here? How much does this cost us? International Rescue Committee (IRC) is to the… rescue? (sorry) This is one of the organizations that helps to resettle refugees in the US.
- Before refugees leave for the US, they sign a promissory note agreeing to reimburse the US government for their travel expenses.
- Refugees take courses in American culture and laws.
- They receive assistance with housing, finding healthcare services, signing up for English classes, and also a stipend for the first 3 months.
- Notice the HOUSING here. Americans do not host refugees in their own homes, so asking someone if they’re willing to do this is unnecessary and pointless.
- The IRC board of directors is unpaid and volunteer.
- In the Fiscal Year ending September 2015, IRC’s total revenue was $681 million. Of that, $454 million was government support. This information is available at Forbes.
- The State Department has information on what non-profit organizations like IRC must go through to receive government grants. “Under current funding procedures, each agency with which the Bureau enters into a Cooperative Agreement (CA) is provided $2,025 for each refugee it sponsors who arrives in the United States during the period of the CA and is verified to have been placed and assisted by the agency. The funding is intended to supplement private resources available to the applicant and may be used at the local affiliates at which refugees are resettled and only for the direct benefit of refugees and for the delivery of services to refugees in accordance with program requirements as described in the CA. In addition, the Bureau funds national R&P Program management costs according to separately negotiated and approved budgets based on the applicant’s sponsorship capacity.”
This How much does this cost us? question is a big one to answer. I’ll stop it here for now (might make a second post on financials later), so moving right along.
How long has the US been taking in refugees? A brief timeline of events:
- In the aftermath of WWII, the US took in 250,000 displaced Europeans.
- Displaced Persons Act of 1948 brought in another 400,000 people.
- Between 1975 – 1985, the United States accepted 760,000 refugees from Southeast Asia.
- The Refugee Act of 1980: Before this, only those fleeing communism were considered refugees. This changed that term to included anyone fleeing persecution (what it is today).
- 50,000 – 60,000 Jews from the Soviet Union resettled in the United States in 1989.
As you can see, refugees have been in this country for a long time and unless you were born before WWII when everyone was lumped as immigrants, have always been here.
A lot of people are interested in this one: CRIME! Refugees and immigrants in general are often perceived as raising the crime levels in their communities and so this is often an argument against immigration. But how valid is this fear?
Let’s look to the Center for Immigration Studies for help… and numbers. Numbers are good.
- Foreign born whites are less oriented toward crime than native born whites. This is from 1901.
- In 1911, a report stated that there was no satisfactory evidence that immigration increased crime rates.
- A commission in 1931 collected data from 52 cities and in their report found that their data did not match the common belief that more crimes are committed by foreigners.
- Data from Los Angeles in the early 20th century also shows that immigrants do not commit excessive amounts of crime.
- Researchers in the 1980s and 1990s found that immigrants commit no more crimes than native-born citizens, and quite possibly commit fewer crimes.
- Using 1980 and 1990 public census data, it was found that immigrant men ages 18-40 were less likely to be in correctional facilities than native-born citizens.
- Between October 1994 and May 1999 it was found that immigrants were less likely to be repeat offenders compared to US citizens. 37% vs. 66%.
- It should be noted that many immigrant crimes might go unreported, though there is no concrete evidence to support this.
It is interesting to see that the statistic has remained relatively unchanged since 1911. The immigrants to this country are either just as likely, or less, to commit crimes when compared with native-born citizens. Throughout the decades of the 20th century we can see that citizens were always distrusting of immigrants, suspecting them of being criminals. Each time this was researched, it was found to not be true.
Terrorism. This is what has been cited as reason for banning refugees from 7 countries. America first, keep it safe first, and all that jazz. Here is Exhibit A.
Never forget the Bowling Green Massacre….
- The year since you probably forgot? 2011.
- What happened? Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi were residents of Iraq living in Bowling Green. All charges against them were against Americans ABROAD and supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq.
- “Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States.”
- If we have to stop refugees from coming to the US because we are afraid of a terrorist attack happening here, then forget Bowling Green.
- Hammadi traveled from Iraq to Syria and there he applied for refugee status, where he lied on his immigration forms in 2009. Case Documents
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services has more information about Iraqi refugees and those seeking asylum coming to the US.
- Between February 2007 and June 2013, 84,902 Iraqis came to the US. Only the two above were charged for terrorism abroad.
- NPR reports that the pause in processing Iraqi refugee applications was to give the FBI more time to check fingerprints on bombing equipment.
- Another NPR report from 2011 explains how the vetting procedures changed and were improved since both Alwan and Hammadi entered the US.
Presenting terrorism, Exhibit B. Source.
“The reality is this: The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”
Number of Syrian refugees who have turned out to be terrorists? Zero.
We looked at terrorism and refugees, but what about everyone who is foreign born? Terrorism, Exhibit C!
- “Including those murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), the chance of an American perishing in a terrorist attack on U.S. soil that was committed by a foreigner over the 41-year period studied here is 1 in 3.6 million per year.”
- “The chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year.”
- “The chance of being murdered in an attack committed by an illegal immigrant is an astronomical 1 in 10.9 billion per year.”
- “The chance of being murdered by a tourist on a B visa, the most common tourist visa, is 1 in 3.9 million per year.”
And that’s all there is about that.