Posted by Eddie Bejarano on September 16, 2015 in Blog

From the beginning of the Syrian conflict, millions of Syrians have been internally and externally displaced. The United Nations estimates that 12.2 million Syrians are in immediate need of humanitarian assistance (4.8 million of whom are trapped in areas that cannot be reached by aid agencies), 7.6 million people are internally displaced (more than half of the country’s population), and nearly 7.5 million children have been affected by the conflict (3 million of which have been out of school). Recent media coverage has focused on the countless heartbreaking stories of Syrian refugees struggling to find their way through Europe after escaping the horrors of ISIL and the Assad regime in Syria.  

The increased attention on the exodus of Syrians leaving their homes for Europe has led many presidential candidates and public officials to comment on how the U.S. has handled this humanitarian crisis and what the U.S. should do moving forward. The U.S. reaction to this worsening humanitarian crisis will impact the Syrian people, as well as the United States’ image abroad. Thus, it is important to see where some elected officials and individuals vying for political office stand on this issue. 

Members of Congress

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) stated, “it doesn’t stand to reason that Germany is going to take 800,000 and the U.S. has only taken 1,500 … if we want credibility in the region, we’ve got to be seen as a partner in trying to solve this humanitarian crisis. Right now, we’re not.”

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opined, “That’s the concern that people have with a huge influx of people from that area: it’s a great way for entities like ISIS and others than wish us harm to cause people to come it … If you’re going to figure out a way to accommodate them, you’ve got to also figure out a way to make sure that in doing so you keep our nation safe.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, commented, “If I could be assured these people could be vetted properly I would be supportive … We are a compassionate nation. We have to deal with this crisis but, you know, this is – could be a very reckless and dangerous policy.”

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), along with 71 members of Congress, wrote President Barack Obama, “the United States has a long history of helping the world’s most vulnerable people, but we have also faltered when faced with difficult decisions to allow refugees into the country. Let us not repeat mistakes of the past.”

In a letter to President Obama, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. wrote,  “I am extremely disappointed that the United States is only expected to accept about 1,800 refugees by the end of October … We have a moral obligation to find the most expeditious solutions to help Syrians in need, especially those who already have Syrian-American family members in the United States.”


2016 Presidential Candidates 

In an op-ed in USA Today, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “ What to do about the root cause of this humanitarian crisis may be complex, but helping refugees is not: Americans have a long, proud tradition of providing comfort to the weak and weary … We are big enough country in size and treasure and heart to do more. And if our political leadership fails us, I believe the American people, like individuals around the world, can and will step forward to do the right thing.” 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated, “there should be an emergency global gather where the U.N. literally tries to get commitments. I obviously want the United States to do our part … As Pope Francis has reminded us, this is an international problem that demands an international response. The United States must help lead that response.” 

Sen. Lindesy Graham  (R-SC) called on the United States to accepts its “fair share” and added, “you have the refugee organizations that are overwhelmed, I think its in our national security interests to try to get ahead of this problem.”

Republican Presidential hopeful Ben Carson suggested, “ we have to recognize that this is a splendid opportunity for the global jihadists to infiltrate those numbers with members of their own organization. So we should have to have in place a very excellent mechanism. Until we had such a mechanism in place, we should not be bringing anyone in.”