Monday, April 4, 2016

Refuge from the Storm

What can we do for refugees seeking shelter from the storm of war?

A couple years ago the tide of refugees seeking to escape native lands plagued by war was just starting to surge. I remember discussing it several times with my wife. I was torn, like many in the countries seeing an influx of refugees - more so because of my Libertarian beliefs. Most if not all of these refugees come from countries known for terrorist presence. My concern was how can we know which refugee is coming with good intentions and which are coming as wolves in sheep clothing? My dilemma was further complicated by my belief that open borders foster the best relations between countries.

In the height of our sometimes heated discussions on the subject, an acquaintance of my wife (who had a son that played with our son) shared her story of fleeing a war torn country as a little girl. She told of being separated from her parents for hours and being put through horrible interrogations for extended periods of time - in the end her whole family was cleared to relocate to the U.S.

The answer that I struck on? There is nothing we can do, including an intense battery of questioning, that will reliably identify those pretending as refugees in order to cause harm. Pretenders will of course been trained on how to closely impersonate legitimate refugees, probably even know how to endure extended interrogations. 

What we can do, starting the instant they arrive is begin to reshape their perception and idea of who we are. Those seeking to do harm have been taught an alternate view of the world outside their terror cell. We need to work on breaking down that perception. Many might believe that their religious beliefs cannot live in harmony with those of a different Belief. We need to show them that they can. They need to see the countless people of their same Belief do exactly that. 

We also need to accept that of those seeking refuge, the vast majority simply want a place where they do not have to live in fear - so much so that many trade homes for tents. These are not the wars our grandparents fought. There is no uniform and no battle plan. The neighbor on the left could be fighting for one side and the neighbor on the right could be fighting for the other. The threat that every day could be your last and that it could be ended without provocation is very real.

These people deserve a fresh start. The first thing we can do is work to remove the barriers preventing them from getting it. Make the entry process easier, make the work permit process easier, make it easier to get the documentation they need to start a life in their new country. 

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