Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Syrian Refugee Plan

What to do with all the Syrian refugees that have fled their homeland? The U.S. has committed to accepting 10,000 by year end plus 20,000 more in 2016. Tiny numbers, really, for a country of 330,000,000 citizens, yes, but taking relatively few is better than taking none at all, and better than taking too many. Meanwhile, some U.S. governors have said ‘Yes, we’ll take refugees’ or ‘No, we don’t want them.’ An unconditional ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ is equally unconditionally ignorant.

Many Syrians will be Muslims, sure, some Christians. Who to accept? Who to pass on? Acceptability should be no more a matter of their religion than it should be their physical characteristics. Base acceptability on the values they hold for themselves and family. To blithely say no to a large swath of people makes no more sense than ‘No, we do not want to take left-handed people,’ or ‘Yes, we want those with blonde hair.’ The yes or no must be dependent on the values hierarchy held by that person or family. The U.S. should accept the refugees whose values fit those of America. So then, how to assess this?

Syrian refugees would be accepted based on the quality of their family and friends who are already citizens of this country. Look, every society does not hold the same values with the same level of reverence. The U.S. would do good to take in people whose values best align with those of the United States. As individuals we already do this in real life when we assess someone whether they be a friend, a prospective boyfriend or girlfriend, or an acquaintance. The easiest way to figure a person out is by looking at their friends. What kind of person do they hang with? What are their personality traits and goals? If a person’s friends are goofballs and jerks, odds are you’ve figured out the person in question. If their friends are smart, well behaved, productive people, you’ve probably figured out the person in question. Apply this test to the refugees.

The background checks of which our government boasts will almost certainly prove to be a ridiculous charade. Who can possibly conduct a background check with no documentation and a homeland in chaos. Vet by ‘Who do you know?’ Rate the refugee applicants based on the quality of a sponsor family already citizens in the United States. But not just a sponsor, someone they know or knew from the homeland. If those citizens are productive Americans, then the refugee family goes to the ‘green light’ pile, else the application ends up in the recycle bin. At the end of the process we simply select the best 10,000, then rebalance for 2016.