America can strengthen people’s lives, and those people can, in turn, strengthen America. Recently, rumors have circulated that the executive branch wants to reduce refugee admission to zero. Through this program, thousands of people, who are escaping violence and persecution find a safe and stable place to call home in the United States. A percentage of those thousands of people are Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM), who will end up in foster care due to the fact that they are underage and don’t have any relatives in the United States — like myself. Closing our doors to this population is unjust and wrong. Harboring URMs is the right thing to do. It is very simple; we have the resources to care for unaccompanied refugee minors. Why shouldn’t we help these young people? Further, resettling refugees is in America’s best interest — both morally and economically.
Most of URM reside in a ‘host country’ in camps or Immigration Detention Centers (IDC) — alongside adults. As expected, it is not right to detain young people with adults, where it can be unsafe. It should be a commitment by every nation, particularly America, to provide designated shelters for young refugees in refugee camps. As a young refugee, I can personally attest that those Detention Centers are not suitable for young people. Therefore, by resettling refugees rather than detaining them, we can prevent young people from entering potentially unsafe places.
There is also financial and societal gain in the long-term for America if we resettle URMs and refugees at large. A new report by New American Economy overwhelmingly found that refugees have higher entrepreneurship rates: 13 percent — compare to 9.5 percent of US born populations. Refugees are ‘uniquely positioned’ to adapt quickly, and refugees over time increase their income rapidly. The report found that the majority of refugees triple their income in three decades. Each year, refugees contribute about $78 billion dollars to the US economy through spending power, taxes, and income. Overall, as the report puts it, ‘Refugees show a particular willingness to make long-term investments in the country.
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Another reason to resettle young refugees is the simple fact that they are young. We, the young people, are the future; young people are of full of potential and energy. Bringing these young refugees brings more innovation and ideas to our communities. I have seen, firsthand, how hard young refugees work to rebuild their lives while in limbo at camps and IDCs. I know they bring only positive intentions to the country. The main concerns that many politicians cite for banning refugees is simply false. Refugees pose NO threat to American security. URMs and other refugees are fleeing terrorism and extremism themselves, and the process of refugee admission is tougher than obtaining a tourist visa. No one who intends to commit a terrorist act would spend three years to be admitted to the United States through the refugee resettlement program, when they can get a tourist visa in as little as three weeks. I know that process is secure enough from personal experience — I had to wait 18 months to be even considered for resettlement, and then another 6 months until an initial interview with Refugee Support Center (RSC) to provide my personal information. From the point at which a refugee registers with RSC to when they arrive to America, their information is consistently reviewed by FBI, CIA, NSA, DHS and even Interpol. The Cato Institute analyzed the risk of terrorism in America and found that the chances of one American being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee is one in 3.64 billion per year.
America portrays itself as the land of the free and a leader in geopolitics. The least we can do is to believe in that leadership and hold America accountable for all of the responsibilities of a leader — namely to step in during crisis and help those in need. We should admit refugees, particularly URMs, because that is what good, compassionate, and intelligent leaders do.