Somalian Refugee: Don’t Punish People Fleeing ISIS

As a Somali refugee to the U.S., I’m alarmed by the recent antagonism toward Syrian refugees.

Following the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, John Kasich, the governor of my state of Ohio, along with 30 other state governors, said he would not accept Syrian refugees into the state. Then, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to make it harder for refugees to enter the country. On Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan is “really quite nice” and people would rather stay there than come to the U.S.

These actions are contradictory to America’s long tradition of offering a safe haven to people fleeing persecution. From Irish immigrants to Cuban asylees and now to Syrians fleeing ISIS, the U.S. has been a needed place of refuge for oppressed peoples from around the world.

I am included in that number. I was resettled in America more than 20 years ago by a refugee agency in the same way 10,000 Syrian refugees will be resettled across the U.S. in the upcoming year. There were six of us: my mother, my sister, my three brothers and myself, a 12-year old, skinny Somali kid with bifocals from Mogadishu.

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