Taking in Refugees: A Duty

Following World War II, the 1951 Refugee Convention defined refugees as those who are seeking an escape from persecution, from all parts of the world. Additionally, they gave them the the right to not be sent home into harm’s way. Refugees change the countries they migrate to economically and politically, influencing many leaders to find ways to not accept them into their countries. Millions of people around the world have been “forced to migrate due to conflict, natural disaster, or persecution, seeking refuge either within or beyond the borders of their country.” At the same time, though, the countries receiving the refugees, have not been loyal to their policies, and do not wish to grant asylum to those migrating. In order to develop promising policies to accept refugees, first-world countries must provide work opportunities and asylum for refugees.

Germany is one of the countries that has developed a promising policy for refugees to work and get shelter. According to Noack, since 2015, Germany has accepted over a million displaced persons. The leaders allowed these fugitives, mostly from Iraq and Syria, to flee their persecution. The policies in Germany were not forgotten or changed in order to avoid dealing with a large, new group of people; rather leaders understood Germany’s role as a world power and decided that it was their global duty to use its resources, such as jobs and money, to help the refugees. Moreover, instead of keeping the refugees in government-run centers and unemployed, Germany successfully allowed the creation of “more low-wage jobs for immigrants,” which helps the country’s economy. This allows the refugees to benefit, as well as the economy. However, in countries like the Netherlands, refugees are placed in government-run centers, and not able to get a job until six months in. Similar situations occur in countries that believe refugees are a burden.

Though many countries have the duty to accept and house fugitives, Gulf countries, such as Qatar, are the main exception to the understanding, since they have not signed any international agreement concerning refugees. However, they are so close in proximity and culture to Syria, a country from which millions of refugees are fleeing to various other countries to escape persecution. If refugees are brought in, the six Gulf monarchies are concerned about the population’s effect on resources and structure within their countries. These countries have donated approximately $900 million, and even though this is a great amount, the amount of resources in camps is not the need. These refugees need stable, safe homes. Policies in the Gulf governments need to adapt, to allow refugees to seek asylum from persecution.

Another country that has refused to bring in refugees and has closed off its borders is Brazil. Many Venezuelans have tried to escape the corruption and hunger back home, and walked to Brazil. Judge Barreto, a well-known judge and leader in Brazil, has announced to block the Brazilian borders for a “humanitarian reception.” She is concerned that health and education services are being jeopardized in Roraima, a city close to the Venezuela and Brazil border. Similarly, the United States has made it difficult for refugees, from all places, to enter, fearing drugs, terrorists, and American jobs being taken by foreigners. According to the Refugee Act of 1980, the U.S. President needs to annually admit about fifty thousand refugees, and also granted the president authority to admit additional refugees in emergencies. President Obama extended the amount of refugees specifically from Syria to 50,000, but the Trump Administration believes that the reduction, thirty thousand (by far the lowest cap since the introduction of the program) was necessary to direct more government resources to the approximately eight hundred thousand asylum seekers at United States’ southern border. However, this new policy is negligible to the responsibility the “land of the immigrants” has to provide asylum to those persecuted, from anywhere. A property immigration and refugee system will ensure that those entering are healthy and will benefit from living the American dream, while contributing back as well, through the economy and social matters. In the United States, groups of people from El Salvador and Guatemala arrive at the border begging for asylum. The United States government feels as though, they do not have the capacity to accept these people. When I took the course, “Adventures in Latin America,” I learned that the stable countries in the eastern hemisphere that choose not to house refugees can at least offer work visas. Work visas authorize people to obtain jobs, therefore contributing to the country they are working in, but also offer opportunities and a slight escape from their unstable home country. Employment-based immigration visas are “made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law.” Increasing the number of work visas will allow for a temporary and slight relief for those struggling.

Furthermore, Colombia has proven that accepting Venezuelans as refugees or on a temporary stay permit is very reasonable for a stable country. Over three million Venezuelans have been absorbed into Columbia. According to Janetsky, “since the beginning of the swell of migration, the Colombian government’s public stance has also been welcoming to migrants.” Many aid organizations provide “food, shelter, child care, medical and legal services to Venezuelans.” However, these aid organizations are not able to keep up with the amount of migrants. Regardless, President Iván Duque does not let this stop his country from helping them, and has called for international support. Author Janetsky explains that a program called Permiso Especial de Permanencia (PEP), was established to allow many migrants to stay and work in Colombia for two years. Policies like those mentioned are beneficial for the host country and refugees, as it shows responsibility and the critical role of stable countries and guarantees opportunities for migrants.

Allowing more refugees to obtain work visas and asylum starts with creating policies to grant more refugees opportunity and safety in stable countries, which will inevitably benefit from the migrants. Nobody wants to take a dangerous, unpromising journey to a different country, many kilometers away. Nobody wants to leave their culture and what they know, and what they have behind. However, when facing persecution and failing governments, people risk everything and deserve their right of liberty and safety. It is the duty of the richest countries to offer their resources for the suffering people and grant refugee status.

Sources: www.economist.com/international/2018/04/21/European-countries-should-make-it-easier-for-refugees-to-work www.cfr.org/backgrounder/How-does-us-refugee-system-work foreignpolicy.com/2019/01/14/heres-why-colombia-opened-its-arms-to-venezuelan-migrants-until-now/ www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/Why-aren-t-gulf-countries-taking-syrian-refugees www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/09/30/germany-said-it-took-in-more-than-1-million-refugees-last-year-but-it-didnt/?utm_term=.fc275439fdfc www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/06/brazil-shuts-border-venezuelan-migrants www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/what-legal-obligation-does-the-us-have-to-accept-refugees-a7552621.html travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/employment-based-immigrant-visas.html#overview www.cnn.com/2015/09/08/world/refugee-obligation/index.html

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