The Price of Our Fear

or Why a Vote for Hillary Clinton is a Vote for Humanitarian Justice.

(Editor’s Note: This piece is written by an 11-year-old American child who wishes to remain anonymous.)

This year the civil war in Syria has continued. Nine million people have been forced to flee their homes since 2011, and 450,000 people have been killed so far. I was stunned to find out that 50,000 of those people were children, no different than you and me. And to make things worse, there are 13.5 million people in urgent need of help.

Imagine you had to leave behind your life and your home because you were at risk of being killed any second. Imagine that you had to spend five years of your childhood in a dirty crowded camp, with nothing to do, very little food, and no medical supplies. In this time you would be getting no education, and death would be a normal part of your life. You would just be waiting for a chance at life. Now tell me that wouldn’t be a terrible way to have to live. 2.5 million children are in that situation right now.

I have heard about this issue occasionally on the news for the past few years, and it had always stood out as being even more upsetting than some other things I was hearing. About a week ago I watched the third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump. An issue that they discussed was the Syrian Refugee Crisis. After hearing Trump’s incredibly unsympathetic plan, I thought this was a very important issue to bring awareness to, given Trump has a decent chance of becoming our president. I thought a good way to do that was to write this piece about it. That’s what I did.

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There was a charity in our neighborhood a few days ago where you could directly send supplies to Syrian children living in camps. My mom went out and bought a bag of things. We sorted the supplies into piles that would each be given to a kid. We sorted hats, and socks, and toothbrushes, and notebooks, and bars. We also put in some candy. I felt bad giving out different amounts to different people when the packs had uneven amounts. My brother, Jasper, pointed out that they probably wouldn’t care, given the situation they are in. It was almost certainly true and it made me think about what I have, and how if I lived in worse conditions I probably wouldn’t care about things like that.

I live in a cozy, victorian brownstone in Park Slope, Brooklyn off a busy shopping street. I have my own bed with two blankets in which I can sleep every night. Every day I eat a good breakfast my Mom or Dad makes for me; I eat pancakes, eggs, crepes, and cereal. I get on a bus and go to school where I get a quality education. I have access to hospitals, and I don’t have to live in fear of being killed. I have plenty of things to do, and I have many toys. I live with all of these things, but I really didn’t do anything to get them. People just take things like these for granted, but millions of people around the world don’t have any of these things. Why should I have all these things, and millions of kids in Syria shouldn’t?

There is no answer to that question. I was born into a loving family, in a safe country. But what makes me any different than a kid whose family had to flee Syria and is looking for a new place to live and start a new life? Absolutely nothing. Some people think, “Ugh, it’s so unfair. Why should I have to pay for a refugee’s housing?” and “They’re stealing our jobs!” but when you start thinking about all the terrible things these people — who could just as easily be you and your neighbors — have had to live through, it just seems really unkind to not want them to come to America because they might increase your taxes.

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I had heard about President Obama’s goal to let in 10,000 Syrian refugees multiple times this year. I learned that just this September, he reached it, but because of fear that people like Donald Trump are spreading, there has been a lot of pressure to end the flow of Syrian refugees entering the country. “We have no idea who these people are, where they come from,” Trump once said of Syrian refugees. “I always say, Trojan horse. Watch what’s going to happen, folks. It’s not going to be pretty.” It’s quotes like these that are wrongly spreading fear into people, and it is stopping these refugees from getting the help they need.

This fear is definitely a big problem and Trump is contributing to it for votes. I was talking to someone about this issue, and they believed that even though the vast majority of Syrian Refugees do not mean harm to the US, we should still not accept them because some of them could possibly put you and your family at risk of being killed. I see where this thought is coming from, and I love my family more than anything else. But we have to remember these refugees are people too and we can not let fear stop us from helping them. Trump is making it seem like we have no idea who we let into our country, and for the safety of your family you should vote for him. But these claims are simply not true.

The vetting process that is used to let the refugees in is incredibly thorough, and on average takes 18 months to 2 years. Even with this crazy long vetting process in place, Trump still suggests making it even “Tougher.” Also, to assume that most Syrian people are terrorists is racist. Despite the falseness of this claim, it seems to be working for him: 80% of Trump supporters see Syrian refugees as a threat to our country. And if you haven’t already guessed, Trump wants to suspend immigration from Syria and Libya, and he wants to send back Syrian refugees already in our country. If the price of our fear is millions of refugees staying homeless, then we must not act upon it.

On the other hand, Hillary’s plan is a lot kinder. She wants to let in an additional 55,000 refugees. She would give them opportunities, and make sure they have a place to start from, (that’s not the streets!) Though this is still not a very big portion of the refugees in need of a home, it is a big step up from Obama’s 10,000. This will make a difference.

If this memoir has inspired you to help, there are many good ways to do so. There are various organizations which you can donate to such as Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee who provide with direct aid by giving out food and supplies, and Save The Children, who encourage education in refugee camps. But one of the best, and easiest ways you can help secure a long term future for these refugees is by voting for Hillary this election. Whether you hate or love Hillary, just know that your vote this November 8th will decide whether these 55,000 refugees will get the homes and opportunities they need; the ones that they have been lacking for five years.