Recent reports though show that Syrian refugees in Cologne helped protect an American woman from organized attacks.
Hesham Ahmad Mohammad, 32, and his compatriots formed a circle around Seattle-native Caitlin Duncan, 27, and helped lead her to safety. The men approached Duncan asking if she needed help shortly after her hat had been stolen and someone tried to kiss her face and neck.
In November 2015, around 30 governors called for a halt to accepting Syrian refugees. A number of Republican presidential candidates are echoing that call.
“We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they come from, we can’t really trace them,” Ohio Gov. and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich (R) told Fox News in November.
Many Syrian refugees though are simply looking for a place to continue their lives. Refaai Hamo, a Syrian scientist who was recently resettled in Troy, Michigan and was a guest of President Obama during the State of the Union earlier this month, is one such example.
“I still think I have a chance to make a difference in the world. I have several inventions that I’m hoping to patent once I get to America,” Hamo told Humans of New York, citing inventions he’s drawn up plans for, including a plane that can fly 48 hours without fuel, a device that can predict earthquakes weeks in advance, and a device already in use in Istanbul that generates electricity from the movements of trains.
In fact, refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants often prove to be some of the most influential, successful, and appreciated members of society.
“Victor Hugo, W.H. Auden and Vladimir Nabokov to Nikolas Tesla, Marie Curie and Sigmund Freud. At the top of this pantheon sits the genius’s genius: Einstein,” Eric Weiner, author of the book The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places, From Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, wrote in the Wall Street Journal, listing a number of refugees and immigrants that achieved their grandest accomplishments in countries that were not their own. “Lost in today’s immigration debate is this unavoidable fact: An awful lot of brilliant minds blossomed in alien soil. That is especially true of the U.S., a nation defined by the creative zeal of the newcomer. Today, foreign-born residents account for only 13% of the U.S. population but hold nearly a third of all patents and a quarter of all Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans.”
“Not all cultural collisions end happily, of course, and not all immigrants become geniuses,” Weiner wrote. “The adversity that spurs some to greatness sends others into despair. But as we wrestle with our own immigration and refugee policies, we would be wise to view the welcome mat not as charity but, rather, as enlightened self-interest.”