Refugee influx weighs heavily on the European Union

The United States is no stranger to immigration problems, but we’ve never dealt with as great an influx of people as the European Union faces today. In the midst of the horrific Syrian Civil War, millions of refugees have sought asylum in Europe.

Nations such as Germany and Sweden have been inundated with asylum applications. Swamped, European countries are entirely justified in partially closing off their borders to further Middle Eastern immigration. While the situation these Syrians face is tragic, there is a limit to what the countries of Europe can do to resettle these people.

According to Yahoo News, Germany alone is expecting at least one million immigrants from a combination of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. To put this in relative terms, that is akin to the U.S. accepting almost four million immigrants from a few select war zones across the world in a single year.

Although Germany feel overwhelmed with asylum seekers, the countries closest in proximity to the Syrian conflict currently have received the largest influx of immigrants. Turkey and Lebanon have received over one million refugees and Jordan has received over 600,000.

While the neighboring countries are desperately in need of relief, some of these states have played a role in exacerbating the issues of the Syrian Civil War. Not only has Turkey refused to aid the anti-ISIS coalition, the state actually began air-strikes on the Peshmerga, the Kurdish rebel force. Lebanon’s militant group and political party, Hezbollah, has bolstered Bashar al-Assad, the resident dictator of Syria.

Regional neighbors may offer a potential solution due to the ethnic and linguistic homogeneity of countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. Refugees may assimilate more easily into these countries than many European ones. Large immigrant populations have encountered cultural backlash in many European Union countries, such as the Turkish community in Germany or Algerians in France.

The well-being of refugees should certainly be of importance in this debate too. Many families would undoubtedly live more secure and comfortable lives in countries of the European Union versus many of the regional neighbors. Europe has a moral obligation to help their fellow humans, but they cannot take in every refugee that requests asylum.

Members of the European Union should strive to equitably distribute the number of refugees they do take in. Many European nations have made attempts to secure borders. Croatia, Hungary and Macedonia have all taken actions to prevent further Syrian immigration.

The Dublin Regulation, an existing European Union law, states that the first country of arrival for stateless people is where they should register for asylum. This law has largely been ignored as countries on the immigration path try to mitigate the number of immigramts. Since many seek the higher standard of living in Germany, they are willing to continue their journey. German enforcement of the Dublin Regulation would create more equitable distribution of the humanitarian responsibility of settling a population fleeing war.

This is an incredibly complex geopolitical situation, but one thing is certain: The refugees need safe, stable homes. Almost all European Union member countries can provide for basic needs of asylum seekers; however, Germany cannot take all refugees. The immigration crisis requires a concerted response rather than dodging the problem.

Scott Johnson ‘18 (johnso16@stolaf.edu) from Gladstone, Mo. He majors in economics.

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