Banning all refugees is not a solution

We need to lessen the isolation that refugees are experiencing, not ban them from the country.

Keelia Moeller

There has been a lot of talk lately, particularly among Republican governors, about completely disallowing Syrian refugees to enter the United States.

In fact, more than two dozen GOP governors have expressed concerns that refugees in the U.S. will lead to a higher number of terror attacks in our country.

This is not surprising, given that recent terrorist attacks in Paris have also raised concerns regarding the security risks of letting refugees into a country.

However, these fears are ultimately leading to the distorted conclusion that the refugee issue is completely black and white and that it has a simple solution.

Gov. Mark Dayton scorned those governors in other states who oppose Syrian refugees, saying all they are doing is engaging in “showmanship.”

Dayton believes that heightening security screenings — not banning refugees from entering the country — is the answer to concerns surrounding Syrian migrants.

So far, Minnesota has established itself as a “true social democratic state,” — to use the words of Ahmed Samatar, a professor at Macalester College — because we have done more than others to welcome refugees. For example, Minnesota has given Somali refugees housing, education and health care.

Despite this humanitarian achievement, Syrian refugees are not the only ones being targeted as security risks — there is also controversy surrounding Somalian refugees in Minnesota.

There is a very high concentration of Somalian refugees in Minnesota, with nearly 1,100 people relocating here in the past year. Terror groups like ISIS and al-Shabab are targeting Somalian youth in Minnesota and preying upon their feelings of isolation.

But instead of blaming the youth who are preyed upon, might it not be more prudent to lessen their isolation and actually welcome them into our community?

The fact is, banning refugees from entering our country is not going to stop ISIS and al-Shabab recruiters or terrorist attacks. The movement to ban refugees would only isolate them even further, perhaps pushing them down paths they will regret.

In order to lessen the number of youth who join terror groups, we need to understand why exactly they are joining them. To that end, I and many others believe youth are joining terror groups like ISIS in an attempt to find some purpose or meaning in their lives and escape their own isolation.

The main solution here is stop placing blame upon refugees for crimes they did not commit. Instead, we need to make them feel welcome in our communities.

The safety of U.S. citizens is important, so complex security screening is a good idea. But banning refugees from entering the U.S. would be refusing to provide safety to the refugees themselves.

Minnesota has done well so far, but there is always more to be done. Starting with the young refugees in our schools, we need to teach them that they are, in fact, welcome here.