The United States has long taken in refugees from around the world, resettling more people than any other country — a fact that may not seem obvious in the current political atmosphere.
In the latest struggle for the country to lay out its welcome mat, many U.S. state governors have said they’re unwilling to let Syrian refugees into the country because of the perceived national security threat that they may pose, citing the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut. On Thursday, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed a bill aimed at halting refugees from entering the country. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) went so far as to say that the country should not accept orphans under the age of five who are seeking asylum.
But over the decades, the United States has accepted thousands of refugees from countries around the world — including more than 784,000 refugees since September 2001. Of the 2,174 Syrian refugees admitted to the United States in that time, none of them have been arrested or deported on terrorism-related grounds, according to a White House statement. Here are just some of the examples in the past century:
Holland was invaded in May 1940 and in July of that year, the Dutch liner Volendam arrived in New York carrying 233 passengers, including 79 British child refugees. At the time, the Association of University Women annoucned that “it had agreed to find comparable homes for from 3,000 to 6,000 children of British University graduates. The children would arrive within a month,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported at the time.
Some U.S. politicians have recently emphasized this longstanding policy history. President Obama recently scoffed at Republican politicians who oppose admitting Syrian refugees, stating, “Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America. At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also weighed in saying that the United States has always welcomed immigrants and refugees. She said, “We have made people feel that if they did their part, they sent their kids to school, they worked hard, there would be a place for them in America.”