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Refuting the connection between admitting refugees and terrorism

One common argument in defense of refugee restrictions is that allowing more refugees increases terrorism risks because terrorists could be hidden among the refugee flows. There are a few critical problems with this argument. First, refugees are heavily and extensively vetted – in other words, they are thoroughly checked out to make sure they do not present any security risks before entering the US. Connecticut Rep. Elizabeth Esty, August 21, 2018, Connecticut Delegation Urges Secretary Pompeo To Reject Refugee Proposals, The Administration additionally overstates the potential threat posed by refugees resettled in the United States. Refugees are already among the most extensively vetted individuals to enter the United States and alleged security concerns are no reason to cap the USRAP. These baseless justifications must be countered with policies that will preserve the United States’ moral integrity and humanitarian tradition. Congressional Documents and Publications, August 31, 2018 With the Number of Refugees Permitted to Come to the U.S. on Pace for Lowest Number on Record, Senators Call on Trump Administration to Step Up Efforts and Honor America’s Legacy as a Safe Haven for Families Fleeing Persecution; Among all travelers to the United States, refugees are the most carefully and thoroughly vetted.[15] Prior to traveling, refugees must clear extensive biometric, biographic, intelligence, medical, and law enforcement checks, involving multiple agencies and extensive interviews.[16] While we must continue to screen refugee applicants thoroughly, we must also conduct the vetting and interviews in a timelier manner and address the root causes of mass displacement abroad Second, refugee restrictions reduce counter-terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing, destabilize vital allies, and make terrorist recruiting more effective Acer, 17 – director of Human Rights First’s Refugee Protection program (Eleanor, “U.S. Leadership Forsaken Six Months of the Trump Refugee Bans” July, Human Rights First, .As detailed above, the refugee bans and their cuts to resettlement have impacted U.S. allies and undercut U.S. support for nations whose stability is key to U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. For example, refugee resettlement from Jordan fell by 64 percent in the first five months of 2017 and resettlement from Lebanon fell by 35 percent. Resettlement to the United States from Turkey has dropped by 79 percent in recent months. Former national security officials and military leaders who have served both Democratic and Republican administrations have repeatedly expressed concerns that the derailment of resettlement undermines our ability to support the stability of strategically important nations, including U.S. allies.83 For example: n In the wake of the March 6 order, former officials with national security expertise wrote that “resettlement initiatives advance U.S. national security interests by protecting the stability of U.S. allies and partners struggling to host large numbers of refugees,” that the ban is “harmful to U.S. national security” and that “the order’s drastic reduction in the number of refugees to be resettled … weakens this country’s ability to provide global leadership and jeopardizes our national security interests by failing to support the stability of our allies that are struggling


Resolved: On balance, refugee restrictions in developed countries are permissible (NSDA China, Spring 2018)

Legally and morally, governments have both obligations to help refugees as well as a right to control their borders. One of the way governments do that is by restricting immigration. These obligations are very well established in political theory, legal tradition, and ethical scholarship. These legal and moral obligations stem from practical concerns related to protecting a country’s economic interests and its security from physical threats. The essential question the resolution asks is whether or not these conceptual and practical interests outweigh other competing interests – legal and ethical obligations to refuges, as well as practical potential benefits that might stem from letting more refugees into the country. In this essay we will unpack some of the key terms in the resolution, discuss political and ethical theories that underlie the debate, identify key arguments for both sides, and conclude with some arguments you can make on each side as to which one outweighs. To contextualize the obligations that governments have to refugees, it is also important to understand the current refugee crisis and what it mean for someone to be a “refugee.” There are currently 68 million refugees on the move worldwide, constituting the largest refugee crisis since World War II. Lauren Crow, December 19, 2018, How to alleviate the refugee crisis The number of refugees worldwide has climbed for six consecutive years. Some 68m people are now displaced by violence and persecution—equal to a fifth of the population of America, nearly half that of Russia and more than the entire population of Britain. At the same time, humanitarian support is chronically underfunded. As of September 2018 the United Nations’ refugee agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (unhcr), and its partners had received just 31% of the funds they needed to provide basic assistance to millions of Syrian refugees and displaced people. The same dire situation exists elsewhere too, with less than half the amount of humanitarian funds needed in the vast majority of conflict-affected countries. If nothing is done, this trend of growing numbers and scarce resources will continue, with severe consequences, in 2019. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads Get our daily newsletter Upgrade your inbox and get our Daily Dispatch and Editor’s Picks. This is not a sustainable situation. The answer does not lie in countries adopting harsh unilateral measures that target refugees and that run counter to humanitarian values and responsibilities. That will only inflame the problem. Instead, we must reduce the number of displaced people worldwide by preventing and solving the conflicts that drive them from their homes. We must rally people and countries to act together based on common interests and universal aspirations for security, dignity and equality. This does not have to come at the expense of our safety and economic well-being at home, but is an essential requirement when facing problems of international dimensions. Rights, funding, action Let’s look at the facts. First, 85% of all refugees live in low- and middle-income countries. Most people who are displaced by violence remain


Refugees Topic Updates (Spring NSDA China)

Many refugees being forcibly returned to Syria Jesse Markes, 2-13, 19, Washington Post, Jesse Marks is an MPhil candidate in International Relations and Politics at the University of Cambridge, and a former Fulbright visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies in Jordan and a Scoville fellow at the Stimson Center. In July, a Russian strategy was introduced to facilitate the return of more than 1.7 million refugees to Syria, where 6.2 million people remain internally displaced. The United Nations projects the return of 250,000 refugees this year. Increasingly anti-refugee policies in western states and the reduction of Syrian refugees resettled annually from 2016 to 2018 have placed significant financial and domestic political pressures on host countries in the region. As a result, heightened domestic fears in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey of permanent integration are coinciding with a reported increase in deportations since 2017. With resettlement increasingly less possible and the domestic instability surrounding fears of naturalization, the regional and global push for the return of Syrian refugees is underway. In most instances, however, it is premature. Refugees are at risk of forced return to Syria because of shifting norms in refugee policymaking. How did this come about? The resettlement regime falls first ADVERTISING The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has three primary “durable solutions” for refugees — resettlement, integration and voluntary repatriation (return). In 2016, the first option, resettlement, came under attack amid waves of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees fleeing toward Europe. Rather than accepting refugees, many western states closed their doors and looked to neighboring countries — Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan — already hosting significant refugee populations to stem the outflows. The protracted displacement of as many as 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and upward of 1.4 million in Jordan have intensified domestic concerns about political and socioeconomic issues in both countries. Host to more than 3.6 million Syrians refugees, Turkey has a greater size and economic capacity, but the general public responded with backlash to 55,000 Syrian refugees obtaining citizenship. The politics of return rates With the door on resettlement and naturalization closing, return is becoming a priority for host states. But UNHCR and host states seem to be painting different narratives about both the manner of and justification for returns, with host states consistently reporting higher totals of returning refugees. Moreover, Russia’s Center for Reconciliation for Syria announced that about 130,000 Syrians returned last year — putting its estimated total at 315,000 since the beginning of the war. Meanwhile, the United Nations reported that it has verified about 103,000 refugees who have returned to Syria since 2015. While refugee return rates are inevitably difficult to monitor, host states may be more inclined to report higher totals to emphasize that return is plausible. Higher totals would also signal to other Syrian refugees that return is safe because thousands of others have gone home before them. Or, refugee returns are occurring more widely than the UNHCR is able to monitor and verify, bringing into question whether


The United States should end its arms sales to Saudi Arabia (Bibliography)

Background A call to end US-Saudi Arms sales (2017). This article is a good quick overview of the the pros and cons of the sales. It also has critical background information on the conflict in Yemen and some of the humanitarian consequences of the war. Saudi Arabia: Background and US Relations (September, 2018). This is a long Congressional Research Service report that reviews the major issues in US-Saudi relations.  It will take you awhile to read it, but if you do read it you will have a good understanding of the Saudi-US relationship. Trump touts Saudi Arms Sales (March 2018).  This article covers the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MSB) to the US and Trump’s efforts to boost relationships with Saudi Arabia. It also discusses the current arms deal. It is a very brief article. US has ratched up arms sales to Saudi Arabia (October 2018). This is a very short article that says the US doesn’t want to cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the murder of  Jamal Khashoggi, a murder almost certainly committed by the Saudi government. The article is very short, but there are some useful infographics that show the expanding arms sales. Countries still selling arms to the Kingdom (May 2018). This article reviews the major arms suppliers to Saudi Arabia and argues that the US is the dominant supplier. It does suggest that China and Russia could possibly fill in if the US were to reduce its sales, though it also points out that they are very small suppliers now. Arms Sales in the Middle East: Trends and Analytical Perspectives on US Policy  (2017).  This longer Congressional Research Service report offers an excellent overview of US arms sales to the Middle East. It does cover countries beyond Saudi Arabia, but it also identifies the core reasons the US sells arms (economics, influence) and discusses some of the pros and cons of the Saudi sale. How much does Saudi Arabia spend on arms deals with the US? (October 2018). This article argues that US sales to Saudi Arabia are currently only worth $3-$4 billion per year and that China and Russia cannot simply fill in.. US-Saudi Cooperation: Conditioning Arms Sales to Build Trust (November 2018). This article contends that US weapons are being used offensively in Yemen but also argues that if we cut off sales that the Saudis would still have the weapons they need to execute the war for years. Europeans cut Saudi arms sales (March 2018). This article discusses the potential inconsistency between the sales and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) but also argues other countries won’t limit sales to comply (if needed) with the treaty. Saudi Arabia is America’s Number One Weapons Buyer (October 2018).   This is just a general article that says the US has sold a lot of weapons to Saudi Arabia and that the US dominates the global arms trade. Pro Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: Worth the Cost?  (January 2018). This brief two page report argues that US arms


Helen Xu @ MIT on Policy Debate v. Research

Applying high school debate skills to PhD research, JUNE 2018 Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Diversity That’s so MIT Unlike many of my fellow graduate students in computer science who have been doing programming and math competitions since high school (or potentially earlier), I spent six years in middle and high school in policy debate. This usually meant I was traveling around the country almost every weekend to argue about the government and international relations at hundreds of words per minute. Although debate may not have prepared me for Computer Science (CS) research, it might have been better preparation for becoming a grad student. For those who do not know, policy debate is a fast, technical, competitive speech-based activity comprised of “rounds” where two teams of two students argue different sides of a proposition (called the resolution) about a specific type of policy that the United States government could enact. The activity looks completely different from the presidential debates we see on TV, with debaters racing to say as many relevant words as possible in the time allotted. I enjoyed my time in debate and seriously considered continuing the activity in college and studying something related like political science or international relations, but I wanted to try something completely different to see if debate was really what I wanted to do with my future. In my first semester of college I took a computer science class because it seemed like a change of pace. I quickly found that research in CS and debate were related. Read the rest of the article.