Welcome Syrian Refugees into Illinois

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Outside the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) exhibit “Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter” hangs an excerpt from the “List of Deaths” that logs over 22,000 deaths of migrants and refugees in Europe. Looking at the wall full of name after name of refugees, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair.

People on the list decided to abandon their homes and properties. They decided to part with friends and neighbors, sometimes even family. They did not make these decisions because they thought it was for the best; they were forced to out of necessity. They no longer had access to education, healthcare, and protection from the government that we so readily take for granted.

Today, nearly half a decade since the Syrian Refugee Crisis started, families still make the perilous trek across countries, often risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They leave everything behind, with a hope that they will one day return to their homes. But little do they know that half of all refugees are displaced for more than ten years.  

Most Syrians end up in neighboring countries like Lebanon, which provides shelters for a million displaced Syrians;, or one fourth of its entire population. Yet we Americans are not doing enough. Thus, we call for the expansion of the United States Refugee Admissions Program. We urge the governor of Illinois to openly retract the refusal to admit Syrian refugees into Illinois. We ask our fellow Americans to unite behind the children of Syria, who are being denied of their childhoods by the horrible and destructive act of war. Let this be our generation’s crusade against the evil of our world.

We, the members of UNICEF at UIUC and students of UIUC, pride ourselves of being the residents of the Land of Lincoln. Let us uphold his words “those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” Let us declare to the world that America, even in its most trying times, will be the world’s brightest beacon for freedom, hope, and opportunity. Let us preach our belief that the government is established to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty. And let us do so without using the mightiest military in the world, but instead with a small but bold gesture to welcome Syrian families to our home.


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