Debunking the Refugee Stigma


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees revealed heart-wrenching news that as of mid-2022, they estimate that around 103 million people are forcibly displaced. Some say we have the moral obligation to accept others into our countries and that their integration can provide economic and social benefits to the receiving country. Others argue that the contrary drawbacks severely outweigh the possible benefits. However, the last decade has platformed a ceaseless repetition of empirically false arguments against the influx of forcibly displaced people. These reasonings have only catalyzed misguided mentalities and detrimental notions of these struggling people.

Possibly the most discussed aspect of the rejection of refugees is the security risk. Many critics, like FOX News host Sean Hannity, believe that ISIS and Al-Qaeda will try to “infiltrate the refugee community so that they can get to Western Europe and the United States to commit acts of terror.”

However, this agenda that an inundation of refugees will massively inflate crime rates is categorically false. In reality, refugees who become immigrants are less likely to commit crimes compared to natives. Generally, they try to assimilate with the local workforce as soon as possible, commonly start business, and generally pay more than they take from the social security system. For instance, three refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo founded the Umeme Group, an electricity distribution company in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement. The refugee maize market had flooded and these entrepreneurs were able to establish an electric generator and provide electricity for 27 businesses run by other refugees while generating revenues.

In the media, we constantly hear about the dangers that refugees will bring. Politicians tell us that there is no way of vetting these foreign invaders and that the threat of incoming terrorists is inevitable. This ‘useless’ vetting system that they sell to the public is erroneous. For instance, The United States has a thorough twenty-step screening process to protect their country from possible threats. If you’re a Syrian refugee, there is an extra step of screening called the Syrian Enhanced Review that may include an additional layer of vetting by The USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directors. In September 2016, another step was implemented as the House of Representatives voted that the FBI director must sign off on every refugee. This process takes around 18-24 months after you are recommended by the UN. Between September 11, 2001, and October 2015, the U.S. has taken in approximately 784,000 refugees. Of those resettled refugees, only three have been detained for organizing terrorist schemes, and none of those attacks happened on U.S. soil.

The continuous propagation of erroneous arguments and the creation of negative stigmas and stereotypes are counterproductive while worsening the dialogue and material conditions of those forced to abandon their homes. These people are trying to escape economic hardships, political turmoil, famine, and war. It is within their fundamental human rights to be granted the opportunity to pursue happiness. This comes with a risk, but every decision comes with a level of risk. People in positions of power and ordinary citizens take risks every day. There has been profound research and analysis to find a permanent solution. Nevertheless, there is a long way to go in order to obtain an effective solution to this global issue. Fighting against false rhetoric and dehumanization is a critical aspect of our pursuit to better the lives of us all.

Featured image by: The Guardian

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