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Policy Memo for the U.S. Action on Refugees

Free «Policy Memo for the U.S. Action on Refugees» Essay Sample

Introduction

In the modern world, numerous local conflicts take place in different parts of the world; they cause a great number of refugees that seek shelter in foreign countries. As one of the world’s leading countries, the United States has taken responsibility to host a lot of them. Such intention has created debates among the U.S. politicians concerning whether the country should host so many refugees or not. Both the potential danger and benefits are to be considered in this regard. Below, there are some recommendations for the US on how to resolve the refugee crisis inside the country and partially in the whole world:

  1. The US agrees to host about 100,000 refugees annually as long as such major conflicts as in the Middle East and Africa are taking place. The number should be agreed with the United Nations to share the responsibility with other potential hosting countries.
  2. The US limits the rights of refugees inside the country. It means that refugees are welcomed and are treated equally but do not have the same privileges as the U.S. citizens have.
  3. The US should provide refugees with full economic freedom for their economic naturalization. This strategy will be beneficial to both the host country and foreign refugees.

Historical Background

Nowadays, a refugee has become a very popular word that is often used by celebrities, politicians, and civil activists. According to the UN, the most common reasons for people becoming refugees are wars and persecutions (Yako, 2014). Despite the fact that there are no major wars in the modern world, there are numerous local conflicts that involve many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. According to the United Nations report, every minute, 24 people leave their house and run away to other country or region for saving their lives (Azer, 2016). Today, the hot spot is Syria that has already lost millions of citizens, and the nation is diffused across the globe, from the US to Turkey (Wall, 2015). Among other reasons for becoming a refugee, there are the violation of human rights, economic hardship, and bad environmental conditions. Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Eritrea, and Burundi were top ten countries by the refugee population in 2016 (Chang, 2017). In turn, peaceful countries, especially from the Western world, have to host refugees that run from the wartime in the Middle East and Africa.

The US as the hegemon in the modern world is an active member of the UN that defends human rights. Logically, the country should host a lot of refugees. Another reason for such behavior is that the US is a role model; thus, other countries will refuse to host refugees in the case of American refusal to do the same. The US has always been an attractive place for refugees but not always open. For instance, after September 11, the doors for many refugees were closed. Later, under pressure of the global refugee crisis, the administration of ex-President Barack Obama hosted a great number of refugees. Nowadays, the situation is similar to the after September 11 period: after the series of terrorist attacks in Western Europe, the border for refugees of Muslim origin is closed again by the administration of Donald Trump (Chang, 2017).

Each year, the US hosts tens of thousands of refugees from different countries. Last year, the number of refugees was about 85 thousand; however, Donald Trump is going to reduce this number in the coming years (McWilliams, 2016). The US hosts the greatest number of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Burma, Iraq, and Somali. In the past, more Christians came to the country due to political, economic and other conditions. Now, the percentage of Muslim refugees in the US is 46% as opposed to 44% of Christians. California and Texas are the most hospitable states in the US, while Delaware and Hawaii allow for no refugees at all (Chang, 2017). Nevertheless, a lot of Americans do not want the US to host refugees, and only 41% consider the country responsible to give shelter to Syrian refugees. Before Obama left his post, he had initiated the law that would increase the number of refugees from 85 to 110 thousand (Chang, 2017). Nevertheless, Donald Trump turned the policy on refugees to the opposite direction by passing the law that banned people from eight Muslim and some other countries, including Chad, Yemen, North Korea, Iraq, Venezuela, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, to seek asylum in the US. Hence, this year the number of refugees can be only 45,000 (Chang, 2017).

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The presence of refugees can be both harmful and beneficial to the American economy. On the one hand, the US has to spend money on providing shelter and social help for refugees. However, on the other hand, many refugees become useful members of the American society. In this regard, a great example is the Michigan City. Since it is one of the oldest cities in the US, its population decreases with each year, and the nation is aging. Nevertheless, Michigan hosted a great number of refugees, and the city was renewed by them. Also, 71,1% of refugees are of working age, while the percentage of American-born citizens of the same age is only 49,7%. Last, 180,000 of refugees have own businesses in the US that generate more than $4,5 billion annually (Chang, 2017). Therefore, the history shows that refugees can perfectly complement the American society and become its essential part.

Current Options and Approaches

There are many approaches to resolving the refugee crisis in the United States. The first solution is based on the liberal theory of international relations. According to it, the country (the US) should consider its foreign policy as the continuation of its domestic one (McWilliams, 2016). Hence, the US as the country with strong democratic values should promote them worldwide by hosting refugees that want to defend their right to political and economic freedom and peaceful life. Hence, the country can agree to host much more refugees so that more people can live under peaceful conditions with full observance of their political and economic rights. Such an option was supported by the ex-President Obama who tried to increase the number of refugees in upcoming years. The 2016 presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, also supported such standpoint and promised to increase the number of refugees in the future (Azer, 2016).

The second approach is based on the constructivist theory. According to that theory, a country should focus on social values in managing its foreign policy (Yako, 2014). Therefore, the country should not only protect the national interest but also defend human rights and preserve social norms in maintaining the global stability and safety. Hence, the US as the hegemon in the world can spread democratic values and the idea of human rights that are above the sovereignty of a state. Hence, the US can share the responsibility for hosting refugees from different regions with other countries with the same values, for example, members of the European Union. Therefore, the US can partially neglect its national interest, for example regarding the stable economy, to protect human rights in the world.

The third approach is based on the realist theory. According to the theory, all countries are independent and sovereign; therefore, there is no supreme power in the world. In line, each country has to follow only the own national interest (Wall, 2015). Such an approach can be applied to the US in managing the refugee crisis inside the country. In such a manner, the US can close its borders for refugees or give access only to a greatly limited number of individuals. The similar practice is applied in Poland, Hungary, and some other European countries. Here, the US can set its national interest over the responsibilities of the hegemon. Therefore, applying the rational theory of international relations, the country can satisfy only own needs and spend funds and resources on internal problems. The approach is supported by the President-in-office, Donald Trump, who has already cut the number of refugees by half. Nevertheless, Trump still has not managed to implement his policy of closed boundaries since other branches of American power do not allow for this plan (Chang, 2017). In such a manner, there are three main approaches to solving the problem of refugees in the US: liberal, constructivist, and realist.

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Recommendations and Analysis

While analyzing the three major options for solving the refugee crisis in the US or in the whole world, it is better to choose the constructivist theory since it can be considered the middle ground. If the US takes into consideration the three following recommendations, then it will be able to incorporate some elements of both the liberal theory (helping other countries and maintaining the role of the leader in the world) and realist theory (putting the priority on its national interest).

Recommendation 1. The US agrees to host about 100,000 refugees annually as long as such major conflicts as in the Middle East and Africa are taking place. The number should be agreed with the United Nations to share the responsibility with other potential hosting countries.

The US as the hegemon cannot fully refuse from hosting refugees since in this case, the country is likely to lose authority on the global stage and its influence in numerous international organizations. The country can host 100,000 refugees each year and increase this number according to different conditions (the number of refugees that need shelter and the reason for becoming a refugee, for example). Obviously, the US should also take into consideration the opportunities of each state ready to host refugees. If the country cannot accept more than 150,000, it should not. Therefore, the US should follow its democratic values and host as many refugees as it can as long as this initiative does not harm the national economy.

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Recommendation 2. The US limits the rights of refugees inside the country. It means that refugees are welcomed and are treated equally but do not have the same privileges as the U.S. citizens have.

Due to the great danger of terrorist attacks (September 11 and numerous recent attacks in Europe, for example), the US can limit the rights of refugees in the country. It is not necessarily to give citizenship to refugees; they can have the permit for living in the US for only a year or two and then ask for the extension. Also, refugees can be banned to buy any type of weapon. Hence, with the help of such small restrictions, the US will be able to discharge its international duty, as well as secure its citizens from potential dangers that can be brought to the country by refugees.

Recommendation 3. The US should provide refugees with full economic freedom for their economic naturalization. This strategy will be beneficial to both the host country and foreign refugees.

Today, a common refugee in the US is more economically beneficial for the country that an average American-born citizen (Chang, 2017). These foreigners are more likely to start a business since most of them are of work age. Hence, by giving essential economic and legal conditions and opportunities for refugees, the US can receive a valuable response effect. Therefore, the best approach for the US is hosting as many refugees as possible with the full economic freedom but, at the same time, with some restrictions that will ensure the safety of the country.

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Conclusion

Recently, the US has faced the problem of refugees on the global stage and, as a leading country in the world, it should resolve the crisis. Three options were offered: 1) liberal (hosting a lot of refugees and giving them citizenship); 2: radical (following only the national interest and closing the border for refugees); 3_ constructivist (hosting refugees with restrictions, thus receiving mutual benefits). The best option is the last one. With its help, the US can use the refugee crisis as a great opportunity. First, as a leading country, the US will strengthen its position; second, refugees will be beneficial for the national economy if treated appropriately.

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