Policy, Empathy and the International Refugee Crisis

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Last week’s executive order from President Trump has returned the international refugee crisis to the forefront of discussion in American politics. Any time we talk about refugees, it’s easy to get caught up in the risks or burdens that may come with allowing so many foreign people into our communities.

The Syrian civil war has led to the the single largest humanitarian crisis in modern history. More than 11 million people in the country have been displaced from their homes, and another 4.8 million have fled to neighboring nations as refugees.

As more and more Syrians are forced to leave their homes and country, the pressure to admit more refugees has increased on the United States and Europe. But even though the United States has a humanitarian responsibility to provide aid to refugees, the political discourse across the country has been split on the issue, leaving the lives of millions of innocent Syrian refugees in limbo.

Scroll down for a set of videos and articles from Chicago Ideas and around the web that dig into the overall political climate in the Middle East as it relates to the Syrian refugee crisis. Each piece serves to educate on the experience of being resettled as a refugee, and what’s at stake if the international community does not address the crisis in a more impactful way.

What to Watch

The Vetting Process


The existing process for Syrian refugees to be granted access to the U.S. is long, arduous and oftentimes futile.

Is U.S. Foreign Policy Driven By Interests or Values?


If Saudi Arabia’s number one export to the U.S. was bananas instead of oil, would we treat them differently?

Syrian Refugees Aren’t Victims—They’re Survivors


Media portrayals of Syrian refugees often show suffering, but their resilience suggests anything but victimization.

What to Read

9 Maps and Charts That Explain the Global Refugee Crisis

To understand what is at stake with the global refugee crisis, you first need to comprehend the sheer scale of the problem. [via Vox Media]

Immigrants From Trump’s Banned Nations Are Educated, Mostly Citizens and Found in Every State

For decades, people have been immigrating to the U.S. from the seven countries targeted by last week’s executive order. Here’s a look into where they’ve settled and what they’ve done since arriving. [via New York Times]

What to Do

How to Help Syrian Refugees in Chicago

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We spoke to Syrian Community Network founder and executive director Suzanne Akhras Sahloul about what everyday Chicagoans can do to help with the refugee crisis.

Call Your Representative

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No matter where you stand on the issue, the easiest way to be an active citizen is to call your elected representatives. There are a number of sites that let you find your congresspeople and track their votes. Here’s one to bookmark.

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