Welcoming and Educating Syrian Refugees

August 29, 2016

By Lisa Rosenberg

This week, the United States welcomes the 10,000th refugee fleeing the violence and turmoil in Syria, thus following through on a promise made by the Obama Administration last year. More could and should be done. NAFSA urges Congress and the next administration to amplify efforts and provide security to as many as 100,000 refugees from Syria in the coming year. As NAFSA CEO Marlene M. Johnson noted in her congressional testimony last year, we have the ability and duty to open our doors to an even greater number of people in need.

In addition to providing security and hope to those fleeing terror, we also urge the administration to streamline the visa process for refugee students in order to ensure that Syrian students seeking higher education in the United States have a path to do so. The administration could, for example, ease the requirement that foreign students demonstrate they have no intent to immigrate to the United States. The administration could also address the severe logistical challenges foreign students face by allowing required in-person interviews to take place in locations other than U.S. consulates.

The United States is viewed by the world as the leader in international education. We not only have the capacity to provide refugee students with an education that begins to reshape the future that was stolen from them, but also the moral obligation to do so.

Incoming refugees are properly and thoroughly screened prior to their arrival in the United States in order to ensure our own safety. By taking the steps to further the education of victims of war—especially in higher education—and providing them opportunities to rebuild their lives and contribute to their new campuses and communities, we foster greater global peace and security as well.


Lisa Rosenberg is senior director of public policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators.


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