Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Helping refugees would enrich ourselves

This website is for those who want to share their apartment with a refuge. You don't even have to pay -- refugee organizations will pay their share of the rent. This is frankly awesome.

I grew up around refugees. Our neighbors were refugees from south Vietnam. They flew out with the fleeing American troops as the South Vietnamese government collapsed. They got onto an overloaded helicopter that had barely enough fuel to reach the aircraft carrier off the coast. That helicopter was then dumped overboard, to make room for more arriving refugees and American troops.

Because my father was a journalist reporting on El Salvadoran refugees, we became life-long friends with one of those families. She was a former education minister, he was a former businessman. It was "suggested" that she resign from government. One night, while driving home, a paramilitary roadblock stopped them. Men surrounded the car and pointed guns at them. The leader then said "wait, they've got children in the back", at which point the men put down their guns and fled. In other words, they should be dead. They fled to the United States soon after, and hid in a church basement. Since El Salvador was on America's side in the Cold War, by definition, there could be no political oppression, and hence, they could not be refugees.

Working in Silicon Valley, a fellow engineer related her story. She and a friend fled from Vietnam on an old boat that broke down in the middle of the ocean. After a couple days, with no food and water, they were picked up by a Greek ship. The captain gave the two girls his cabin, so that they wouldn't get raped. Alone without family in the United States, she still got into college, and got a degree in software engineering.

I'm not trying to make a political statement here. Germany is being overloaded with refugees. Where births number 600,000 a year, they are getting 300,000 refugees. Their leaders are suggesting accepting more, like 500,000 a year. This is going to have a huge impact on their society. It's not (necessarily) racist to push back.

But on the other hand, Germany shouldn't shoulder the burden alone. The United States currently gives billions of aid to countries neighboring Syria to ease their refugee burden. We should be bringing more of those refugees here. Even Lindsay Graham, and otherwise fascist presidential candidate, thinks we need more of those Syrian refugees coming to America. Yes, we'll get the occasional Tsarnaev (a refugee). But at the same time, we'll get some Steve Jobs (adopted baby of a Syrian migrant).

Helping refugees will certainly help them, but my point is this: it will also enrich ourselves.

1 comment:

Olivetti said...

Well said, Rob.