Millions of refugees are fleeing their homes in an attempt to escape the Syrian civil war that began in 2011. A majority of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, while others have sought asylum throughout Europe. Meanwhile, Canada has already welcomed over 40,000 Syrian refugees. The United States, however, has issued a travel ban that denies entry to women, children and families seeking protection from the atrocities of war.
When politicians depict immigrants as terrorists strapping bombs to their chests, their eyes alight with their bloodlust and hatred for Americans, it blurs the reality of refugees. In actuality, they risk their lives in search of refuge on dangerous travel routes controlled by criminal networks — their bodies broken and desperate.
Regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation, people are united by their humanity. Equal in their capacity to love, but also in the ability to suffer, the depths of someone’s pain is not hindered by whether or not they’re wearing a hijab, yamaka or cross around their neck. But what qualities deprive someone of receiving protection and compassion? Misconstrued ideas of national security and the heartbreaking bitterness of xenophobia keep the US from being a positive example for the world. Instead, the U.S. refuses to help those faced with desperation and loss simply because of the unjustifiable discrimination against Muslims.
The expanses of deserts and oceans that refugees must perilously cross to seek asylum should not have to be tainted with blood for us to recognize our obligation to offer aid and protection. The widespread fear and ignorance of Islam does not excuse closing our eyes to the suffrage and death of many that have resulted from civil war, the absence of safe and legal migratory routes and the tribulation of gaining entrance and assimilating into a new country. Recognizing our shared humanity in others, regardless of differences in culture, religion and language, is reason enough to offer rest to those whose hands and feet ache from the white-knuckled desperation of searching for safety.