At the same time, Turkey has threatened to force up to two million of the Syrian refugees it hosts back across the border, in contravention of international law, effectively repopulating traditional Kurdish enclaves. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights warned that a similar effort last year might have been “an attempt to change the ethnic composition of the area permanently.”
We believe that the United States has a special obligation to those who supported or fought alongside American forces, particularly when their plight is so directly tied to American decisions. In the 1970s, at the end of the Vietnam War, the United States brought hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees to our shores. One of them, Huan Nguyen, who fled Vietnam in 1975, recently became the first Vietnamese-American admiral in the United States Navy. In the mid-1990s, when the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein attacked the Kurds of northern Iraq, the United States airlifted tens of thousands of them to Guam to be processed as refugees. More recently, large numbers of Afghan and Iraqi refugees, whose countries were destabilized by American wars, have been resettled.
Today, that generosity feels as if it came from a different country, not just from a different era. At the height of the gravest human migration crisis since World War II, the Trump administration plans to admit just 18,000 refugees worldwide for resettlement over the next year, the fewest in recent history.