News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


U.S. must help Iraqi refugees

Immigration is already a touchy subject in the United States, with many Americans feeling that our country has accepted more foreign-born people than it can accommodate without overtaxing resources and taking jobs away from citizens.

Now the U.S. government has agreed to greatly increase the number of Iraqi refugees it will accept. About 7,000 will be allowed to come in this year, up from just 202 last year.

But 7,000 is a tiny fraction of the estimated 2 million Iraqis who have left their country since the U.S. started the war there in 2003. The numbers have surged in recent months amid civil war and ethnic cleansing. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says the war has caused the biggest displacement of people in the Middle East in recent history.

The United States cannot in good conscience refuse to take a lot more than 7,000 refugees. If some Americans donít like it, they should realize that itís a consequence of the war that they endorsed by their past support of Bush administration policy, even though public opinion has now turned against the war.

One lesson of this war is that before we attack, we should count the costs more carefully. In Iraq, the costs include thousands of lives, billions of dollars, damaged international relations, and possibly increased terrorism and disruption of oil supplies. The refugee problem is another cost.

Some refugees will probably want to become permanent U.S. residents, but the United Nations says most donít want to come here and desire to go home when the fighting stops. Meanwhile, Americans will have the opportunity to get to know some people who can tell them about the real costs of war.

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