Canopy NWA, an immigration organization based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, is planning to start bringing refugees around the world to Northwest Arkansas this fall.
The organization is part of the Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service that works with the U.S. State Department to figure out not only who gets to enter the country, but also where and how they will be relocated. Canopy NWA executive director Emily Linn said it is a slow process to get the refugees incorporated into society.
“We have a case manager who gets them on their feet over the course of three months,” Linn said in an interview on Oct. 3 with NWA Homepage. “So that includes getting them signed up for any benefits like welfare they might be eligible for to kind of help them starting out.”
This comes on the heels of the conflict in Syria in the past five years. According to an article published online by ABC News Oct. 5, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria announced his forces will cease bombing the city of Aleppo, one of the biggest hotspots for rebel forces in the Syrian Civil War. This is after 16 days of continuous bombing has killed 316 people in the eastern part of the city alone. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this is a technique used by Assad to forcefully evacuate civilians from areas he sees as disloyal him.
“Ordinarily you would be heartbroken to learn that this was the result of some sort of accident,” Earnest said in an interview with ABC. “But it’s clear that the Syrian regime…is engaged in a strategy of bombing those civilians intentionally to try to get them to bend to the will of the Assad regime.”
In the shadow of the upcoming presidential election, the Obama administration is pushing to create the Adopt-A-Refugee Program, which will allow U.S. citizens to provide funding for lodging, clothes and other necessities for a refugee of their choice from anywhere in the world. Matthew La Corte, a research associate for the Niskanen Center, says the program will allow U.S. citizens to provide much-needed humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees.
“It puts Americans in the driver’s seat,” La Corte told the Daily Caller in an interview published Oct. 5. “It allows them to say ‘I was thinking of buying a new car but I’ll instead take that $10,000 and put it toward bringing a Syrian refugee over.'”
Political science professor and director of Harding Public Safety Craig Russell says the Syrian refugee situation is bigger than most U.S. citizens can understand, partly due to the number of civilians fleeing the country.
“While accurate statistics are difficult in a war zone as large as Syria, the most recent estimates I have seen is between 300,000 to 470,000 dead over the past five years, and around 11 million Syrians have had to flee their homes.” Russell said. “By comparison, the population of Arkansas is around 3 million. There are so many sides that it is difficult to keep up with all the players, and it is even more difficult trying to figure out what sides might be worthy of support.”
The Obama Administration announced last month that President Obama plans to allow over 100,000 refugees from around the world to immigrate to the U.S. next year. With over 10,000 refugees in the U.S. already and no end to the war in sight, this number is only expected to grow.