Our American duty is to show compassion to Syrian refugees

By Haley Morrison, Reporter

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas will not accept Syrian refugees. According to the Dallas Morning News, Abbott made this decision out of fear that a terrorist could be disguised as a refugee. On Monday Abbott’s opinion and fear was shared by roughly many other governors, according to NBC news.

When I heard this, I was enraged. How can the United States see itself as an example to the world and a paragon of justice and virtue if it doesn’t accept refugees? How can we let our fear stand in the way of our courage and our compassion?

To an extent, I understand Abbott’s fear. Anything is possible. Terrorists could be disguising themselves as refugees in order to get into the United States. I do not think this is likely, but it is possible. After considering this possibility, my anger slightly subsided. From a political standpoint, I can attempt to understand where Abbott is coming from. However, this issue is more than a political one. It’s one of humanity as well.

The United States has made a lot of mistakes in the past. The vestiges of some are still apparent, and reparations are still being made. When I say “the past” I do not only mean an era of slavery, internment camps, or one of segregation or sexism. The past can be as recent and potent as the racism that is currently on display at the University of Missouri.

There are many issues, past and present, that need to be worked out in this country. In spite of these mistakes, I still love the United States and am proud to call it my home. The values this country claims to hold dear are what make the United States worth fighting for.

As President Obama stated, refusing to accept Syrian refugees is a “betrayal of our values,” and I could not agree more.

The United States is a land of opportunity and a melting pot of culture. Often, the country likes to imagine itself as one that fixes the world’s problems. Often, the United States prides itself on its democracy, freedom and liberty. When given the opportunity to prove this now, many governors have apparently cowered from the chance.

According to The Washington Post, Obama stated that the U.S. would accept more Syrian refugees after “subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks.” This statement ought to dull Abbott’s fear that a terrorist, posing as a refugee, would make it into the United States. Not only is holding onto fear likely unnecessary, it’s dangerous.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt stated decades ago, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If the United States lets the fear of terrorism keep it from accepting helpless and homeless families into our borders, then we have let ISIS win.

We are fueling a sense of hopelessness, we are hiding away and we are refusing to see the humanity in those who are poor and in need. To use Obama’s words, this would indeed be a betrayal of our values.

On the Statue of Liberty is an excerpt from Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus.” The inscription reads: “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 tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

The world is offering us their huddled masses. Let us open our golden door and take them in.

Haley Morrison is a junior journalism major from Sugar Land. She is a reporter for the Lariat.