Since the outbreak of Syria’s civil war four years ago, the United States has accepted 2,174 Syrian refugees—fewer people than live in the happening metropolis of Red Lodge, Montana. Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, about one in five people in Lebanon is now a recent arrival from Syria.
The EU, where fear of migrants is rampant, even though zero Syrian nationals were involved in the Paris attacks, has committed to resettling 120,000 refugees. Canadian authorities have admitted more Syrians in the last year alone than the United States has since 2011. The UK has already granted asylum or humanitarian protections to 4,200 Syrians.
Meanwhile, Congress is howling to defund already-besieged resettlement programs. We’ve substituted frothing nativism for what Calgary mayor Neheed Nenshi says his constituents are asking—namely, “How can I help?”
For the tiny handful who make it from Syria to America, the struggle for survival doesn’t end at Customs. Once they’ve navigated an incredibly demanding multi-year admissions process, refugees—especially those 2,000-odd Syrians—arrive to a minimal, increasingly underfunded, and largely third-party infrastructure for aid and resettlement.
Syrian escapees from ISIS and Assad receive the same treatment as asylum-seekers from any other country: The third-party resettlement agencies that handle their cases get a “basic necessities” grant of $1,975 per refugee, a little more than half of which is spent on housing and other needs; the remainder goes to agency overhead. They’re eligible for eight months’ Medicaid, TANF, and food stamps. They’re expected to pay back the cost of their transit to the United States in its entirety while figuring out how to become productive members of a completely new society.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement once provided multiple years’ funding and assistance to new arrivals. Even prior to the current defunding drive, it’s gradually been stripped of those resources. The American situation stands in stark contrast to Canada and the EU’s state-managed efforts to support and invest in their new citizens-to-be.