"No One Puts Their Children in a Boat unless the Water is Safer than the Land": North American Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Resettlement of "Boat People" in the United States
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An estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War in March 2011. The Syrian refugee crisis has been considered the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II, and the global community has been faced with the decision to resettle Syrian refugees, or turn them away. The United States and Canada have been diametrically opposed in their response to the Syrian refugee crisis. In the United States, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic rhetoric has been seeping into the 2017 administration, leaving the fate of Syrian refugees destined for the United States in limbo, while Canada has resettled almost 40,000 Syrian refugees in about 2 years. However, the reaction of the United States to the Syrian Refugee Crisis is not unique, as the U.S. has reacted in similar circumstances to other “boat people” refugees because of underlying discriminatory immigration and assimilation practices. This paper will discuss the fundamental differences between the United States’ and Canada’s immigration policies as well as public opinion on immigrants and immigration through an examination of immigration procedures, a case study of Syrian refugees in both countries, and a historical analysis of “boat people” refugee resettlement in the United States.