Humanitarianism and the Refugee Crisis

In the midst of the politicization of the new refugee policies, there have been two key parts of the discussion that have been lost or ignored altogether: the first is the difference between a refugee and an immigrant, and the second – the more important of the two – is the treatment of the refugee as a human being rather than an object. Many would argue that accepting the refugee into our country would be treating them as human beings, but I cannot help but disagree. In the most heated moments when we speak of refugees in our political discourse, we are not concerned with the affluent refugee who can sustain themselves and speak the language of the place where they take refuge. No, in our political discourse when we are appealing to each other’s raw humanity, we speak of the most vulnerable—the most numerous—refugees who are not able to sustain themselves and who may only speak the language of the land they now flee.

So I must ask, if we really assert that we care about the plight of these people, why bring them to a country only so that they may be put on the dole? Surely taking into account the current administration’s policies and views of prior American military incursions in the Middle East, we cannot believe that we would commit to restoring them to their homeland. But in addition to that, what would bringing them here make us? The answer is that it would only make us the most compassionate of the accomplices organizing their exile. Is bringing them here only to make them immigrants at our government’s will the right thing to do? What sort of civilization is a nation that is wealthy enough to import the poor of the world to satiate the moral glorification craved by its citizens?

I meet President Trump’s refugee policies with hesitation, and, for the most part, outright reject the misguided and often disingenuous calls for Christians to act like “Christians” in regards to the acceptance of refugees. Regardless of the national origin or faith of the refugee, I believe that only those who can pay their way to their place of refuge, those who do not ask for government aid, those sponsored by private aid, ought to be allowed to take refuge in our country. In respect to all others seeking refuge, we ought to go out to them and secure their safety and well-being wherever they are. When we are capable of going out to the refugee to bring them food and shelter and security, there is no reason to bring in the refugee who ultimately would only be placed in an underclass and abused for political gain. We must remain that nation which welcomes the poor immigrant and seeks out those in need.

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About Dominic Stanchina

Dominic Stanchina was a contributor to the Michigan Review.