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Apathy of refugees: An unending dilemma!

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by Henry Stillwell

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door

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The poem ‘New Colossus’ by Emma Lazarus, which is engraved on the Statue of Liberty, bears these words. Images of countless refugees in survival desperation have shocked the world of late.

However, the ‘Land of the Free’ has not pledged any amount of refugee resettlement in the face of the greatest refugee crisis since WWII.

Many things have to happen before the world can expect the refugee crisis to end. First and foremost, civil wars in Syria, Eritrea, and Libya have created situations where families are faced with two choices; flee to the West, or die in your homeland. The West needs to do its part in arranging peace talks, and attempting to bring an end to these crippling wars. Instead of picking sides and supplying weapons, we need to send diplomatic negotiators with peace as the only objective. Secondly, situations of extreme poverty must be alleviated. Another major reason for the current refugee crisis is extreme poverty, lack of access to food and clean water. Billions of people in Africa, Asia, and in the Middle East live on less than two dollars a day. When people who have no money, they face a paucity of clean water; attempt to travel to wealthier nations is often the only option. The West needs to do a better job of leveling the playing field for human species. No human deserves to live without clean water. These should be the long-term goals of wealthy nations, namely, United States in the face of such atrocities.

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In terms of the immediate response, the West must begin to admit more refugees. The United Kingdom pledged to take in 10,000, a drop in the bucket of an estimated 2,000,000 people who have been displaced in Syria, Eritrea and Libya. Clearly, nobody in the European Union has been willing to step up and make commitments based on helping the most refugees possible, as opposed to commitments that make sense financially and politically. However, I feel the country that can and should do the most is the United States. Where would the United States be if we had not taken in swathes of immigrants during the Irish potato famine? The United States is historically a nation of immigrants, a melting pot. The United States is supposed to be the nation where people can seek refuge, and be afforded some basic civil rights. How can the United States be so hypocritical when these are values that every American claims to uphold? These values are enshrined and engraved in our most sacred institutions. They are believed to be the most revered symbols.

Give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?

Here they are!

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    There should be some steps taken to protect these refugees. These people are refugees in their own country, how saddening is that!

Next Story

U.S. Appeals Court Refuses To Enforce Asylum Ban On Immigrants

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Asylum, Trump
A migrant family from Central America waits outside the Annunciation House shelter in El Paso, Texas, after a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer drops them off. VOA

A divided U.S. appeals court late Friday refused to immediately allow the Trump administration to enforce a ban on asylum for any immigrants who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

The ban is inconsistent with an existing U.S. law and an attempted end-run around Congress, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 2-1 decision.

“Just as we may not, as we are often reminded, ‘legislate from the bench,’ neither may the Executive legislate from the Oval Office,” 9th Circuit Judge Jay Bybee, a nominee of Republican President George W. Bush, wrote for the majority.

Refugees, Migrants, Asylum seekers, Trump
Men line up for dinner outside a shelter housing members of the migrant caravan, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, Steven Stafford, did not have comment. But he referred to an earlier statement that called the asylum system broken and said the department looked forward to “continuing to defend the Executive Branch’s legitimate and well-reasoned exercise of its authority to address the crisis at our southern border.”

Trump proclamation

At issue is President Donald Trump’s Nov. 9 proclamation that barred anyone who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border between official ports of entry from seeking asylum. Trump issued the proclamation in response to caravans of migrants approaching the border.

A lower court judge temporarily blocked the ban and later refused to immediately reinstate it. The administration appealed to the 9th Circuit for an immediate stay of Judge Jon Tigar’s Nov. 19 temporary restraining order.

In a dissenting opinion Friday, 9th Circuit Judge Edward Leavy said the administration “adopted legal methods to cope with the current problems rampant at the southern border.” Nothing in the law the majority cited prevented a rule categorically barring eligibility for asylum on the basis of how a person entered the country, Leavy, a nominee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, said.

Refugees, Migrants, Asylum seekers, Trump
Honduran migrant Genesis Belen Mejia Flores, 7, waves an American flag at U.S. border control helicopters flying overhead near the Benito Juarez Sports Center serving as a temporary shelter for Central American migrants, in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

Federal law is clear

In his Nov, 19 ruling, Tigar sided with legal groups who argued that federal law is clear that immigrants in the U.S. can request asylum regardless of whether they entered legally.

The president “may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden,” the judge said in his order.

Also Read: Refugees’ Entitled To Claim The Right To Asylum in The U.S: U.N.

The ruling led to an unusual public dispute between Trump and Chief Justice John Roberts after Trump dismissed Tigar — an appointee of Trump’s predecessor — as an “Obama judge.”

Roberts responded with a statement that the federal judiciary doesn’t have “Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.” (VOA)