The Ages Of The 10,000 Syrian Refugees In The U.S. Matters, And Here’s Why

Young refugees play at the yard of an abandoned school used by volunteers for hosting families of refugeees from Syria and Afghanistan in Athens on June 27, 2016. / AFP / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images

In a surprising second-term success for the Obama administration, the U.S. met its goal of admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country on Monday. That's just a tiny fraction of the 4.8 million Syrians who've been displaced by the country's civil war — but to those 10,000 refugees, this is huge news. The ages of the 10,000 Syrian refugees matter as well: According to the State Department, around 60 percent of the refugees who've been admitted are younger than 18 years old.

That's a good thing for a couple of reasons. On a rather obvious note, a child is going to have a much harder time surviving in a war-torn country like Syria than an adult. For that reason alone, the U.S.' acceptance of so many young Syrian refugees is heartening — these are 6,000 children who won't have to fear being killed by any number of the armies, foreign and domestic, fighting in Syria right now.

But admitting Syrian children into the U.S. is a big deal for a reason beyond the mere survival factor. In short, it gives them a new lease on life. As just about anybody past their mid-twenties can tell you, life gets harder the older you get. With every passing year, it becomes more and more difficult to wipe the slate clean, start anew, and build a fresh life from scratch. That's exactly what every Syrian refugee is being forced to do, and by admitting so many children and teenagers from the war-torn region, the U.S. is giving them a significant leg up on rebuilding their lives.

[Twitter Embed: https://twitter.com/AlecMacGillis/status/770363774599589889]

Of course, all of this requires a healthy dose of perspective. Almost 5 million Syrians have been forced from their homes as a result of the country's war, or roughly one million for every year of the conflict. With some notable exceptions, few countries have stepped up to take these refugees in. And many of the Syrians who've found refuge in other countries are living in dangerous and unsanitary resettlement camps that offer little hope for an enduring future.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, there has been massive domestic opposition to admitting refugees. Donald Trump and many others of his ilk have staunchly opposed the policy, and attempted to depict all refugees as would-be terrorists until proven otherwise.

While accepting 10,000 refugees doesn't come close to solving the larger global problem, the Obama administration nonetheless ought to be commended for doing so. The fact that around 6,000 or so of them are under the age of 18 makes it even more likely that, in the end, these refugees will have an opportunity to find peace.

Must Reads