Texas Political Union debates Syrian refugee crisis

Quanit Ali

While the Syrian civil war is being fought abroad, its impacts are resonating throughout the nation, including on campus.

The Texas Political Union held an open debate Monday night on the topic of fleeing Syrian war refugees and whether the U.S. has a moral obligation to accept them. With the upcoming Nov. 8 general election, many UT students are questioning what the next administration’s foreign policy will include.

The debate began with one student, who is in favor of the U.S. accepting Syrian refugees, delivering his opening remarks on the current crisis.

“If you were to count the amount of Syrian refugees that needed aid, they would stretch across the Atlantic Ocean three times over,” history freshman Rohan Vaidya said.

The opposition was quick to voice their own view, arguing that there is a distinct economic disadvantage in accepting refugees.

“We could give every homeless American $1,000 with the amount of money we spend on refugees,” government junior Josh Armstrong said.

Accepting refugees was a moral obligation the U.S. holds because of its role in the Middle East, Vaidya said, but he also pointed out the positive impacts that refugees have had on our economy.

“We’ve used power to control other governments around the world, and to right our wrongs, the U.S. must take action to alleviate the horrors of the refugee crisis,” Vaidya said. “Refugees come in to host nations and they are able to boost the economy by taking previously unfilled jobs.”

Armstrong, arguing against accepting Syrian refugees, said moral obligation was an invalid claim, citing the Constitution’s description of foreign policy. Armstrong said through the Constitution’s explanation of foreign policy, the U.S. should remain impartial in a foreign policy situation in which they are not directly involved.

“Foreign policy decisions should be dictated by the interests of each nation as its own independent party,” Armstrong said.

Students in the audience were also given a chance to voice their own opinions, with some arguing the U.S. shouldn’t be the only country to shoulder the responsibility of supporting Syrian refugees.

”We must expect more of the gulf states like Qatar and Turkey to support the rehabilitation of Syrians,” said junior Jordan Cope, an international and global studies junior. 

After closing remarks from both sides, students in the audience decided they were in favor of accepting refugees into the U.S. by a 9-4 decision.