Help Syrian refugees reclaim their home

Rocky Raczkowski

For many months now, both our nation and our state have debated the merits of welcoming Syrian refugees to Detroit. Many had the belief that we should just “bring them here” in the name of freedom and goodwill.

While safety is of prime concern to those opposed to bringing these refugees here, the real focus should not be on bringing them here at all. The focus should be on helping them reclaim their home.

Every year on Veteran’s Day, we often hear phrases like “freedom isn’t free.” During my time serving in the Horn of Africa during Operation Enduring Freedom, we worked to help Somalis fight for their homeland, regain their liberty and regain control of their failed state. This is a much better solution and shows real compassion for those that find themselves in harm in their own homeland. Furthermore, where do we draw the line, and how many of the individuals should we take in from the 13 different conflicts raging around the globe today?

The responsible and compassionate answer to the refugee issue is to help them win back their country by establishing refugee camps, schools and equipping and training a “free army” so they can reclaim their nation.

In the military, everything has an acronym. FID = Foreign Internal Defense. UW = Unconventional Warfare. FID/UW are the tools America has at its disposal to assist Syrians in fighting for Syria. These are tools where we teach and equip others to fight for themselves. We offer every tool at our disposal to help them regain control of their country... their home.

Other countries are now speaking up and saying the same thing. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said recently, “We can help them form an army. Tens of thousands of young men disembark from their rubber dinghies with iPad in hand and instead of asking for drink or food, they ask where they can charge their cellphones. They can go to fight to liberate their country with our help.”

We cannot and should not take in refugees who can be infiltrated at Europe’s borders with terrorists of any kind — whether they be the Islamic State or another militant group. Instead of having soldiers from Russia, Europe and the U.S. fighting in Syria, let’s help them secure a refugee camp, school and training of soldiers to fight for their own liberty. In the end, that is their home.

Our own Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” Some would use these words to advocate bringing refugees to our shore and make them Americans. Instead, perhaps, we should bring the liberty from our shore to Syria so Syrians can take back their country, their home and their freedom.

Rocky Raczkowski is the former Majority Floor Leader of the Michigan House of Representatives and a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army.