From a basic understanding, the concept of human rights determines the rights given to all individuals. With the spark of the 19th century, there was a rise in awareness on the interpretation of those rights to life and freedom; however, not all states ensure absolute protection. In International Relations, human rights are considered a work in progress and the overall debate on universal standards are still in effect due to cultural factors. The end of WWII was when human rights had become a concern for countries and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs), thus forming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under the terms of the 1951 Convention, refugees are able to seek asylum as long as there is a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion Non-refoulement also gives refugees the right not to be returned to the country they have fled. Therefore, states that accept the principle of non-refoulement of refugees should obtain the right to reject them on any given occasion because they are not obligated to do so.
The rise of World War II marked a shift in the United States’ perception of refugees. Giving absolute responsibility for refugees to the hands of persecuting states is irrational. Even after decades of failed state intervention, refugee rights is an international issue that all countries are bombarded with. Morico provides an example of persecution of refugees seen in Deraa, Syria, where there were peaceful protests in reaction to two teenage boys vandalizing a school wall with revolutionary symbols (pg.1). In response, President Bashar al-Assad ordered for an attack and killed few of the demonstrators. A lack of governmental support stirred rebel groups to step in and take the matter into their own hands. The rebels prolonged anger gave them the ability to control the government, which began the Syrian Civil War. War tension and persecution caused people to flee to neighboring states such as Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon (Morico, pg.190). However, the neighboring states were unable to provide the basic necessities of life and turned to Westernized countries for aid. In Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it ensures that no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. In Article 31 of the Refugee Convention, it states that if a refugee illegally enters or resides in a state, they are not to be punished; giving them a pass in breaking immigration laws. Therefore, a country cannot refuse refugees based on their sex, race, religion, language, or political affiliation.
On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump implemented an Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States that permitted seven Muslim countries from entering the United States for ninety days (Morico,pg.). President Trump’s action was not only discriminatory but unconstitutional under the laws and treaties they have ratified. Not all asylum seekers are granted an immediate stay; however, their applications need revision. During the application process, it is quite often that a refugee’s status that inquire of being affiliated with terrorists, a genocidaire, or even Nazis are immediately refused- rather than being based on their own actions (Worster, pg.57). To further explain, many refugees are willing to partake in terrorist activities because if they disagree, then their life is at stake. The Refugee Convention was meant to protect the rights of refugees, not revoke them. Worster explains how under the European Court of Justice in Bundesrepublik Deutschland v. B. and Bundesrepublik Deutschland v. D., a refugee who is perceived to be a terrorist cannot be held against them for admittance under international law (pg. 58). The Refugee Convention was established to protect the rights of refugees, not revoke them.
Believe it or not, the United States serves as an influence towards other countries. When Trump proposed the executive order, many other countries began to neglect international obligations and focused on native-born citizens first. Allowing for refugees to come into the state would reverse what many countries have done; their reputation would allow for a state gain more respect and to be seen as selfless. Momin claims refugees can contribute to the state’s economic growth and an abundant amount of labor (pg.8). In most cases, refugees often take on jobs that are less desirable by citizens of the state. Momin also suggests that states that take in refugees tend to see an increase in GDP through the years (pg.9). Refugees come into the country with a different skill set, using their knowledge and experience to enhance the economy. On the other hand, they can provide information about particular enemy and come up with a solution on how they can defeat national security threats.
The controversial debate on refugee acceptance has long been into question because there is no real guarantee for entrance. Under the 1951 Refugee Convention, states are at no means obligated to admit refugees. Help from either the United Nations or non-governmental groups automatically prevents them from receiving further aid. It is quite often that within the application process, there may be individuals who are rejected by other states or deemed as a threat to national security. Morico provides more reasons of a denied entrance which stem from health-related issues, moral or criminal claims, national security reasons, false information on visa applications, stealing, and a history of deportations (pg.11). As cliche as it sounds, it only takes one person to ruin the opportunity for everyone else. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed an Open Door Policy which admitted 1.1 million Syrian refugees and this caused for a series of terrorist attacks to occur. The deadly shooting in Munich and an ax attack in Berlin has not only limited the number of refugees in Germany but also pushed for stricter immigration policies worldwide. Another issue that Momin importantly points out are the Syrian victims that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder from the Civil War, which may cause unpredictable or dangerous behavior (pg.11). There is also a possibility that those who seek asylum, are solely leaving their country for economic opportunity rather than to escape from endangerment. The cost of allowing in more refugees may heighten infrastructure, take advantage of public services, more competition in the workforce, and distort political stability. Overall, it is the profound fear that others have of incoming refugees that prevents them from seeking asylum.
Protecting refugees should be a given at all costs. On the basis of the UDHR and conventions, states who conform to the principles of non-refoulement need to keep refugee rights intact. Regardless of a given situation, a person who wishes to seek asylum in another country should have the right to do so. Moreover, a thorough investigation of the individual is essential due to national security. If they were to be found a threat, deportation must happen. To lessen the number of refugees, there have to be more states willing to contribute or solve the problem. Whether or not states agree with one another, there should be exceptions for allowing refugees in a states’ homeland without any political intervention, but also lead by example.
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