Why America Needs Syrian Refugees

A man from Syria feeds his daughter as asylum seekers line up in front of the State Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGe
A man from Syria feeds his daughter as asylum seekers line up in front of the State Office of Health and Social Affairs (LAGeSo) registration centre in Berlin on December 21, 2015. / AFP / dpa / Kay Nietfeld / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images)

Christmas Past

Many years ago when I started junior high, a couple of girls from a street near my house where poorer people lived would follow me every morning when I walked to school.

One girl was quite large and very much a bully. The other one was her minion. Every morning they'd taunt me on the way to school.

At holiday season our homeroom teacher said we were all to draw names and exchange gifts with each other. The gifts couldn't cost more than a dollar or so.

And of course, I drew the bully's name.

I brooded for days, not wanting to get anything for her. Then I finally told my mother what was going on. "Get your coat, we're going shopping," she said.

We walked to the Boston Store downtown. There she picked out the fanciest lace handkerchief on the table in the ladies clothing section.

That handkerchief cost way more than a dollar.

"This is the one you should should get her," she said.

I was horrified, but I bought it. The next day I gave it to the big girl at school.

When she opened the box her eyes widened in surprise, then filled with tears. She thanked me more than once.

Stunned by her reaction, I couldn't think of a thing to say.

The day after that the two girls followed me to school. They walked much closer behind me, not saying a word.

They didn't need to. Clearly they both considered themselves my protectors, making sure no one else hassled me that year.

The scope of the Syrian refugee problem

An estimated nine million people, men, women and children, have fled from their homes since civil war in Syria started in March 2011.

That's not just because they're poor. Many muslims who didn't flee Syria have been murdered.

Other Syrians who couldn't get out are now working for ISIS.

They have little choice. ISIS is the only big employer left in large swathes of territories it controls.

ISIS pays civilians with money for rent and board if they provide support services for its soldiers.

Ask yourself, do we really want to help groups like ISIS or the Taliban build an army with the support of locals who would far rather join us than help kill us?

Bringing Syrian refugees into the US would allow us to closely monitor them for signs of hostile intentions and track any connections with American citizens intent on committing acts of terrorism.

Creating structures to support the absorption of large numbers of refugees into our nation might actually provide new and better ways of assisting more Americans needing temporary support to get back on their feet.

Most importantly, even a bit of kindness can go a long way toward turning those who envy us into friends, friends who don't want to see us hurt.