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Should the U.S. accept more Syrian refugees? Vandy professor responds


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A Vanderbilt professor says the U.S. does more than most nations to help refugees around the world, but also says America can and should do more.

Dr. Robert Barsky’s research concerning refugees is widely published. He notes that the U.S. is legally bound by both domestic and international law to consider the claims of refugees who cross the nation’s borders.

He also says the U.S. goes out of its way to accept refugees from other parts of the world and provides much of the funding that supports refugee efforts by international agencies.

Still, Barsky says the U.S. should do more.

“For example, taking our share of possible refugees from places like Syria, much more could be done. We would, in a sense, disable the smuggling by going in and ensuring safe passage for people who are eligible for status.”

Dr. Barsky acknowledges concerns that some have expressed that terrorists could be hiding among the refugees, but he also notes that a rigorous screening process is in place.

“Rather than thinking about the dangers that are posed by the population that are fleeing, I think it’s more appropriate to consider the incredible difficulties that they’re facing; that they’re trying to flee and exercise their international right to gain asylum if eligible.”

The Associated Press says that in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry told members of Congress that the United States will boost its worldwide quota for resettling refugees from 70,000 to 75,000 next year. A fraction of those refugees will be from Syria.

Here are some of the books Dr. Barsky has written on the subject of immigrants and refugees:

  • Constructing a Productive Other: Discourse Theory and the Convention Refugee Hearing (Philadelphia; Amsterdam: John Benjamins 1984)
  • Arguing and Justifying: Assessing the Convention Refugee Choice of Moment, Motive and Host Country (Aldershot; Burlington: Ashgate 2000)
  • Undocumented Immigrants in an Era of Arbitrary Law: The Flight and the Plight of People Deemed ‘Illegal' (http://www.taylorandfrancis.com/books/details/9781138849488/)