They Can’t Go Back

When asked about how he would deal with Syrian refugees admitted to the US, Donald Trump stated a few days ago that if he were elected president, “they’re going back.” This was his simple response to people escaping an oppressive government and bloody civil war as their cities crumble around them, people who would have nowhere to go back to except the ruins of their villages, cities controlled by ISIS, and neighborhoods that have been turned into war zones.This is the life to which Donald Trump suggests Syrian refugees return.

It is easy for Trump to say this, just as it is easy for many Americans to agree with this sentiment. It is simple for people who have not had to fear for their lives every day and who have lived with relative wealth and ease in the incredibly stable United States to be unable to empathize with the plight of a refugee. This is not to say that the United States is a perfect nation and that we as citizens are guaranteed constant safety; on the contrary, our country is rife with social inequities, poverty, homelessness, and high crime rates. As Americans, however, we are used to walking about the streets in relative security and not wondering whether an airstrike will hit our homes, having never experienced a war on our own soil. As a result, many US citizens have turned to rejecting to consider the refugee crisis instead of finding ways to solve it, especially since it has nothing to do with them; in many an American mind, we have no responsibility to help anyone other than ourselves.

Certainly, it would not be easy to accommodate an increase in the amount of refugees that can resettle here in the United States. There would have to be a coordinated attempt to set up processing centers, housing, education, and a myriad of other institutions to support an influx of Syrian refugees. Just because creating accommodations would be difficult, however, does not mean that it is impossible. Germany, for example, is setting up a system to deal with refugees that has not only shown itself to be relatively efficient but also quite rapid.

This rapidity is necessary in light of the current political situation. The continued fragmentation of Syria has only pushed the goal of peace further and further away. Russia’s military intervention in the country in support of Assad will only make the problem larger and more complicated. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced within Syria’s neighboring countries. While Western Europe and the United States are equipped to cope with refugees, other nations such as Jordan and Lebanon do not have the infrastructure to support such an influx. In an interview with Good Morning America, Queen Rania of Jordan called on developed nations to aid the refugee crisis, declaring that Jordan is “quite resource poor.” She continued with a powerful adage: “put yourself in their shoes.” The Syrian Civil War is not going to end tomorrow, and even if it did life will not return to normal for Syrians; there will have to be years of rebuilding and restoring the country and its government. As a country and as people, our primary objective should be to help those who are suffering the most in the world.

We as a nation must act to save the lives of innocents. We cannot look at this tragedy and say that there is nothing to do; it is time to act again. We in the United States have room, infrastructure, and resources. All we need now is the will to help those who have nowhere else to go, those who cannot go back.

Daniel Rojas