On Feb. 27, the last of 25,000 Syrian refugees landed in Canada, completing the first phase of the government’s resettlement plan. Sadly, out of more than 3 million displaced refugees, only a tiny number of Syrian asylum seekers are making their way into the United States.
The refugee resettlement program in Canada was launched in November 2015 after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power. Canada has now officially met its target of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 2016 — a point of national pride for Canadians.
Immigration Minister John McCallum praised Canada’s efforts to help the refugees, but warned that much more needed to be done.
"We are not having a massive celebration about this, because it's only a victory for Phase 1," McCallum told reporters gathered at Toronto Airport.
The Canadian government is now gearing up for Phase 2 of the Syrian refugee resettlement plan. It involves helping the refugees find permanent living arrangements, jobs and getting them enrolled into language training for either French or English, within Canada.
On the other hand, unfortunately, more than half the American governors say Syrian refugees are not welcomed in the U.S.
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The Obama administration had originally planned to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees during the next fiscal year. However, due to pressure from within the GOP and amidst protests by right wingers, only 1,500 of those refugees have been taken in since 2011 up until now.
The 31 states objecting to the admission of refugees range from Alabama and Georgia, to Texas and Arizona, to Michigan and Illinois, to Maine and New Hampshire.
Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have both been vocal supporters of taking in refugees based on their religion. But Cruz at least wants a religious litmus test for "acceptable" refugees.
“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” Cruz said at a rally.
In addition, many Republican governors have said they will no longer provide placement for incoming Syrian refugees, arguing that they pose too great a risk to national security.
The American backlash in opposition to refugees is based largely on the fear that a Paris-style attack could be replicated in the United States if it starts accommodating refugees.
Such panic is unnecessary because refugees cannot enter United States as easily as they can enter Europe. Those granted a refugee status are carefully vetted before they are allowed within the country.
At one point last year in Turkey, Obama condemned various calls to admit Syrian Christians but not Muslims, saying such voices were “shameful” and “not American.”
Since the Syrian civil war began, 320,000 people have been killed, including nearly 12,000 children. Nearly half of all Syrians have left their country.
While the Canadian federal government is eager to welcome another 10,000 refugees before the end of 2016, the U.S. government is still limping far behind, lacking the courage to raise voices on behalf of the wrecked asylum seekers.