Why Let In Refugees?
You'd think from the extraordinary lengths that some countries like Hungary go to keep out refugees, and the anti-refugee sentiment across much of Europe, that they pose an overwhelming threat; rather,"economists tend to see a large influx of refugees not as an obligation or a threat -- but as an opportunity."In a recent study of refugee resettlement in Cleveland, it was found that the positive economic impact of refugees in the community was roughly 48 million dollars, while the cost of resettlement was only $4.8 million. In addition, the report stated that "Refugees are more likely to be entrepreneurial and enjoy higher rates of successful business ventures compared to natives," and "At the local level, refugees provide increased demand for goods and services through their new purchasing power and can be particularly revitalizing in communities that otherwise have a declining population." In other words, refugees are more likely to create jobs than take them.And Cleveland is by no means the exception. As recently reported in the New York Times, "A working paper published last year by four economists found that immigration benefited local populations in 19 of the 20 industrialized countries they studied."The article went on to say that "immigrants can be particularly important for countries like Germany that have low birthrates and aging populations. Germany already relies on workers from other European Union nations to fill many jobs. But as the populations of all European nations grow older, Germany will have to look beyond the Continent for workers."This may be why Germany has led European countries in taking in refugees. But Germany is not alone in needing to supplement an aging, shrinking population; which means that throughout Europe that more workers are and will be needed. As Thomas Piketty wrote, the refugee crisis is an "opportunity for Europeans to jump-start the continent's economy. Germany’s attitude is a model to follow."As we mentioned before, refugees are more likely to start small businesses than the general population, or even big businesses. Steve Jobs for example was the son of a Syrian refugee. Other former refugees include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Jerry Yang of Yahoo, Sergey Brin of Google, and many others. In addition, a recent study in Denmark showed that "people who lived in communities where refugees arrived saw their wages grow more quickly than those without refugees."Despite this, politicians still talk about reducing immigration. UK Prime Minister David Cameron advocated for reducing it by 50 percent, but as the aforementioned New York Times article stated, this would "actually reduce the country’s gross domestic product and force the government to raise tax rates to keep its budget balanced." As for the United States, "giving undocumented workers a path to citizenship and making more employment-based visas available to foreigners would raise G.D.P. by 5.4 percent and lower the federal budget deficit by $897 billion over 20 years."Of course there is a tipping point, for instance Jordan, which has taken as much as 1.4 million refugees, about 20% of their population, has suffered some economically, mostly due to the strain on the water supplies. This goes to show that despite the many benefits of refugees, the refugee crisis can not be taken on by the likes of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey alone. However, if many countries all take in a portion of the refugees, it is very likely that given how refugees are known to effect the economy, that all those countries will be greatly benefited together.However, economy is not the only objection some people have to taking in refugees, another is culture. It is said specifically of Muslim refugees that they can not properly integrate into Western society. However, a number of recent studies in Briton have showed that, in a way, Muslim Britons are more British than non-Muslim Britons, finding that:• 83% of Muslims are proud to be a British citizen, compared to 79% of the general public.• 77% of Muslims strongly identify with Britain while only 50% of the wider population do.• 86.4% of Muslims feel they belong in Britain, slightly more than the 85.9% of Christians.• 82% of Muslims want to live in diverse and mixed neighbourhoods compared to 63% of non-Muslim Britons.• 90% of Pakistanis feel a strong sense of belonging in Britain compared to 84% of white people.Despite this, 47% of Britons see Muslims as a threat, and only 28% of Britons believe Muslims want to integrate into British society. This rejection of Muslims actually makes it harder for Muslims to integrate, even though the vast majority want to. The same is true in other countries in the West, as reported anecdotally in Iman Al Nassre's article on this site, "Yallah, Deutschland! On growing up Syrian in Germany and where we go from here."However, as Leon Moosavi reports in regard to the above statistics: "While politicians may claim that multiculturalism has failed, there is a strong case to be made that it operates successfully every day when Britons of different faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds convivially co-operate alongside each other to make the nation what it is today. Muslims are integrated, feel at home in Britain and are quite simply as British as the next person, even though this does not quite match the sensationalized cynicism that some enjoy indulging in. This rather unexciting conclusion is actually rather exciting as it lays to bed many of the unwarranted concerns that are held about British Muslims."One more complaint people have regarding refugees is that they supposedly bring with the violent crime. This is simply not the case. Although there are examples of crime committed by refugees, they are no more likely to be involved with crime than the general population, and some "evidence suggests that in overall terms, diverse migrant communities actually lead to lower crime rates." And although recently many anti-refugee activists have characterized refugees as rapists, there is simply no evidence for this, and as the German newspaper Die Welt reported, "most of the crimes committed by refugees are related to traveling on public transport without tickets or theft." But even this is at a lower or equal rate to the general population.To sum up, refugees generally provide a huge economic benefit, they do just fine integrating, and are not any more likely to commit crime than native citizens. However, that's not why we should be letting in refugees. The arguments just made should not need to be made. We should be letting in refugees because to help a human in a desperate situation is the right thing to do. The fact that we will be benefited tremendously economically is just and added bonus. Consider that of the roughly 4.2 million refugees, "67 percent have been children under the age of 12 and women," including tens of thousands of which are unaccompanied minors. Consider that this is the largest refugee crisis since World War II, a time which saw similar anti-refugee paranoia, resulting in tens of thousands of Jews and others failing to escape Nazi atrocities, such as Ann Frank, whose family was denied refuge in the US because of similar anti-immigrant paranoia. Consider that to not help them and to send them back to Syria would mean possibly sending them to their death. Consider that to not welcome refugees is exactly what ISIS wants. And remember that breaking through political resistance and taking in refugees is not only possible and desirable, but it's already being done in places like Germany and Canada. We can and should be following those examples throughout the western world.