The conflict in Syria has been raging for over three years, leaving over 100,000 people killed and millions displaced within Syria. Millions more people have been driven from the country, forced to seek refuge and asylum in neighboring countries. While many hope to one day return to Syria, it is unlikely that they will be able to make the move home any time soon. Others have resigned themselves to seeking a more permanent solution to the civil war by looking to permanently resettle abroad.
Many have looked to the United States, one of the top refugee-receiving countries. Each year, nearly 70,000 people are granted asylum in the U.S., but only 46 were Syrian refugees last year. With millions of Syrian refugees, the U.S. only took 46. What is worse, those 46 had applied for refugee status before the civil war even started, meaning that the refugees who have been displaced since the start of the conflict have largely not been able to get into the U.S.
There are a number of people in Lancaster County who came to the U.S. seeking asylum. The fled persecution in their home countries or overall instability and violence. These people not only found a home in the U.S., but they also found protection, safety and comfort that they would never have been able to get in their home countries. The Syrians who wish to move to the U.S. are looking for the same thing.
It is important to note that, while often treated the same, refugees and asylum seekers are not the same. Asylum seekers are individuals who apply for asylum once they arrive in the U.S. Refugees have been driven from their homes and are resettled in the U.S. from the country in which they had sought temporary refuge.
Source: New York Daily News, “America, open your arms to Syrian refugees,” Melanie Nezer, March 28, 2014