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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Agree or disagree about what action the United States should take in Syria, but the U.S. missile attack on Syria last week must be a turning point in U.S. Syrian refugees policy.

It stands to reason that if the President of the United States could not turn a blind eye to an indiscriminate chemical attack that killed scores of civilians in Syria, that same President must not ignore the imperative that the United States accept and welcome Syrian civilians as refugees.

The Syrian people are clearly suffering. Families and individuals have been fleeing Syria in a desperate attempt to stay alive for years, and neighboring countries have taken on the greatest burden. In February 2016, it was estimated that Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt together took in more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees, and European countries have also taken in large numbers of Syrians and other refugees. In sharp contrast, the United States has taken in just over 18,000 Syrian refugees since 2011.

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statue_of_liberty_200x150This week, the United States welcomes the 10,000th refugee fleeing the violence and turmoil in Syria, thus following through on a promise made by the Obama Administration last year. More could and should be done. NAFSA urges Congress and the next administration to amplify efforts and provide security to as many as 100,000 refugees from Syria in the coming year. As NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson noted in her congressional testimony last year, we have the ability and duty to open our doors to an even greater number of people in need.

In addition to providing security and hope to those fleeing terror, we also urge the administration to streamline the visa process for refugee students in order to ensure that Syrian students seeking higher education in the United States have a path to do so. The administration could, for example, ease the requirement that foreign students demonstrate they have no intent to immigrate to the United States. The administration could also address the severe logistical challenges foreign students face by allowing required in-person interviews to take place in locations other than U.S. consulates.

The United States is viewed by the world as the leader in international education. We not only have the capacity to provide refugee students with an education that begins to reshape the future that was stolen from them, but also the moral obligation to do so.

Incoming refugees are properly and thoroughly screened prior to their arrival in the United States in order to ensure our own safety. By taking the steps to further the education of victims of war—especially in higher education—and providing them opportunities to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new campuses and communities, we foster greater global peace and security as well.

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Matt SugrueBy Matt Sugrue
With great confidence, I strode purposefully to the counter of the patisserie and said, “Ithnaan al-qahwa min fa…” The young man working behind the counter raised his hands in front of him in a gesture that was both pleading and placating and, with very little trace of accent, said, “Please. Please stop. I speak English.”

Welcome to the first morning of my first day in Lebanon in the summer of 2009. Suddenly I was facing the prospect of having to travel around Lebanon equipped with Arabic skills that were not nearly as good as I had thought.

By the end of my month-long backpacking trip, which also included time in Syria, my spoken Arabic vastly improved from my fateful coffee-ordering experience – in fact, it  improved more in the short time I was in the two countries then it had over the entire 2 ½-year period that I had taken academic language classes.

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