U.S. should welcome desperate refugees
His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was only 3 years old. This young boy washed up on the shores of Turkey on Sept. 2, drowned after his family tried to cross into Europe in a small, leaky boat. They were fleeing the violence of ISIS in Syria. And now, Aylan, his 5-year-old brother and his mother are dead.
The photo of Aylan’s body on a beach has sent shock waves through an international community that has been all too complacent. Millions of Syrians have been displaced, thousands have drowned crossing the Mediterranean, and politicians continue to quibble over how many hundreds of asylum seekers they can accept. The United States has barely contributed, committing to accept a mere 1,800 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2015.
Many of our ancestors arrived at these American shores as refugees, fleeing famine, war and persecution. My own grandfather fled Austria in 1939 to avoid being killed by the Nazis. From the Erie Canal to today, refugees have enriched the cultural and communal life of Buffalo and hundreds of other American cities.
We must call on our political leaders to do their duty and resettle more Syrian families in the United States, and we must welcome them to our country and our city when they come. To do anything less risks our moral authority as a nation.
His name was Aylan Kurdi, and he was not the first. It is now our choice to see if he will be the last.