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International students react to limiting refugees

November 20, 2015

Photo By Adam Gerik, reproduced from The Chornicle - Monmouth College Students welcoming future students from Syria from the Amtrak station in Galesburg in 2013.

Following the tragic events in Paris last weekend, at least 14 United States governors have stated that they will refuse to allow Syrian refugees to take shelter in their respective states. This is in reply to the Obama administration’s announcement in September that it would allow 10,000 Syrians into the United States by next year. US governors fear that allowing Syrian refugees into the United States could potentially be used by ISIS members to gain entry and carry out more attacks.

“These refugees are families; children, women, and men,” said Syrian sophomore Amjad Karkout. “Obviously children and women are not fighters, and no man is moving with his family seeking the safety of his children will involve in harsh acts, but he will be working hard to make sure that his kids are having a good education and safe lives.”
Karkout, along with many other Syrian international students, came to Monmouth College from Syria to get away from the ongoing Syrian civil war.

The states denying entry into their states include Alabama, Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, Florida and Illinois, whose governors are primarily Republicans. While all of the Syrian international students disagree with this decision, many do sympathize with it.

“The decision is unjustified and inhumane despite being well-intentioned nonetheless,” said Syrian student Elias Shamas. Many of his Syrian colleagues voiced similar opinions.

“I understand that the governors are concerned about the safety of their states. However, their concerns are targeting the wrong group of people,” said Syrian junior Mark Ghaith. “Syrian refugees have fled their homes in the first place because of such similar terrorist attacks by ISIS.”

“Syrian refugees aren’t aliens,” said Syrian student Hend Alloush. “They are struggling to survive.”

A national poll conducted by Monmouth College last month asked 18-24 year olds if they approved of President Obama’s plan to increase the number of worldwide refugees accepted by the United States. A majority indicated they supported the increase, with 54.5% approving, 27.4% disapproving and 18.2% unsure.

International students on the Monmouth College campus learned that the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday to impose new screening procedures on refugees from Syria.

“I believe increased screening and background checks will come in handy for this situation,” said Syrian junior Tarek Awad. “The United States has one of the strongest security systems in the world and they know who they are letting in their country.”

“If stricter and more in-depth screening procedures, background checks and interviews are what’s needed then so be it, but no governor can justify shutting the door on all Syrians,” said Shamas.

Political Science professor Ira Smolensky voiced his opinion on the matter.

“Whether we wish it or not, this situation is one that tests the soul of our nation. In the end, political posturing will not serve us well. Doing the right thing, in my opinion, will benefit us in the long run.”

Cristian Corbett
News Editor

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