Many, many people are running away from the vicious three-way war in Syria. As of last week, there were 4,289,792 registered Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. According to the High Commissioner, the names of 22,427 Syrian refugees have been submitted to the United States for resettlement consideration.
But then came Paris. Since November 13th, the governors of 31 states in the U.S. have expressed to some degree that they do not want Syrian refugees placed within their borders. That includes New Jersey. Thirteen states have said the exact opposite. That group includes New York. The issue ultimately falls to the federal government (the House has passed a bill that would effectively stem the flow, though it is unclear if the Senate will follow suit).
So the debate is on. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s reasoning is based on safety. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand, bases his stance on American values. Who is right? The Brooklyn Ink asked some New Yorkers to share their opinions—should we let them in?
“If they’re good people. But you don’t know who’s who nowadays. You don’t want to deny any access to the U.S. to anyone. Everyone should be able to enter the country. But if you have someone with a demeanor to kill people they shouldn’t be allowed in this country. You gotta be alert now. We don’t wanna kill no more innocent people as well.”
—Henrique Peguero; Middletown; Maintenance worker in the Upper West Side
“I just feel like they shouldn’t be here in New York. New York? I don’t understand… The question is – do they believe what Isis believes?”
—Angel Cruz; Queens; Puerto Rican; First generation American Citizen; Security job; 37
“They should be allowed but they have to check their background… Check if they have legal passport, check their background. Like we say in my country, not everybody has to pay for the broken plates. Just because this guy is a terrorist, doesn’t mean you or I are a terrorist. A lot of innocent people have been killed… There are bad guys everywhere.”
—Candido Borgen; Bronx; Dominican; Second Generation American Citizen; Construction worker; 34
“The reason I came to America is for the freedom of the speech. Everybody have the right to a better life. If they have problems in their country because their government is corrupted, then they should have the chance… everybody has a second chance at life. There’s a lot of people worse off in American, people are poor living on the streets. So bringing more people is gonna be hard, but America has the best heart. Even the poor people have education and house.”
“I live in America for 28 years and I work very hard and I have nothing against nobody. I think they should (come). Parents, single parents, with kids, young people—their goals are to be good professionals. Come on, come to America. It’s the greatest country in the whole world.”
—Pedro Angeles; Manhattan; Immigrant from Lima, Peru; Pita Grill NYC Original 1993 Manager; 50
“I think the governor of New York is right. I think most folks fleeing Syria are in dreadful situations and I believe New York City is probably in a decent position to provide those families with an opportunity to bounce back. Most Syrian refugees are well educated doctors or lawyers who were just unfortunate to be living in the wrong country at the wrong time. I think the main difference between the U.S. and Europe when it comes to accepting refugees, is that the U.S. can actively screen who gets into their country. Europe, on the other hand, is flooded by hundreds of thousands of refugees that they are unable to actively monitor. And while we saw one of the terrorists posing as a refugee last week in Paris, that same threat would not translate oversea as we would be able to handpick which refugees to let in.”
—Nelson; Midtown East; French; Born in France; 24
“The negatives outweigh the positives… There’s a lot of terrorists posing as refugees. They want to force people to do things as a religion… They’ve shown over and over that they can’t be trusted. Everybody has a right to protect their own country.”
—Melissa Acevedo; Queens; Puerto Rican; Second Generation American Citizen; Unemployed; 34
“I’m not terribly afraid of letting refugees in. I guess as most peoples’ opposition to it, I guess they’re afraid of terrorism. I don’t know, the screening for refugees is pretty intensive. There’s a serious humanitarian crisis. I’m not afraid; I’d rather help people out.”
—Jessica Johnson; Morningside Heights; African-American/Irish; Physics Student, Hunter College; 29
“No one wants to bear the cost but it is imperative to help where we can. If it is deemed we ‘can’ do a certain amount then I’m OK. We just need to be certain that those making the decisions maintain the country and look out for it just like every other country on the planet.
People will be nervous. People will be upset by this; they may even protest. But there will be just as many who want to help more people.”
—Jon Mini; Financial District; Irish/Italian; 3rd Generation American Citizen; Junior Trader; 24