Today, 90 million people live in some form of refugee, transition or flood camp -- more than have ever lived in such camps in human history. Richard Matthew, professor of planning, policy and design and director of the UCI Blum Center for Poverty Alleviation, says it's possible to solve the humanitarian crisis, but solutions face resistance packaged in three arguments: refugees pose a threat to Americans, it would cost too much to help them and it would be too difficult to assimilate them here.
Data and history refute all three objections, Matthew says in his TEDxUCIrvine talk.
First, the U.S. government has multiple agencies vetting refugees and, in fact, only one of 784,000 refugees admitted since September, 2001 has been charged with trying to commit a terrorist plot. Besides, continued upheaval fed by unsupported people in countries like Syria and Sudan spurs violence that threatens the U.S. more.
Second, settling refugees would cost Americans less than 50 cents per day for five years -- at the high end of the scale.
Third, Americans are more accustomed than almost any other country to accepting and integrating immigrants and refugees. "Is there a single American who can't tell the story of how he or she or their parents once came from somewhere else to this country?" Matthew asks.
In his talk, Matthew implores people to consider the facts, data and history before turning away from the 90 million people living in camps. And then to act.
"No history is written by the people who do nothing. It is written by the people who do something," Matthew says.