CUP Undergraduate Research


The United States Immigration Process: The Current Political Environment and its Repercussions for Syrian Refugees

Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2017

Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Arts & Sciences



Degree Name

Humanities, BA

First Advisor

Dr. Carrie Walker


The following work is an exploration into the United States immigration process revolving around Syrian refugees escaping war. In it, the history of the Syrian region is taken into consideration in order to present the foundation upon which the current civil war is based. In regards to the United States’ immigration process, the nature of this process is examined in several ways. First, the history of immigration legislation is discussed. The legislation discussed traces legislation from early American restrictions on immigration to more current legislation in the Obama Administration concerning refugees. Understanding the legislation history of the United States is essential in understanding current immigration laws and the framework of the immigration process. This topic leads to the second section which delves into the current United States Immigration policy. These procedures are discussed in relation to the immigration process for all potential citizens, refugees specifically. Further, the U.S.’s system is compared to that of Canada for two reasons: the first, because Canada’s Express Entry System is a successful example of a country that accepts refugees in large numbers that become active members of society; secondly, to assess and compare the U.S.’ policy of family- based immigration and Canada’s economic immigration policy.

The third and fourth sections seek to explore immigration in a personal way. In the third section immigration in Oregon is explored in order to show how the refugee resettlement process works. A localized perspective is especially relevant as Portland has vowed, along with a handful of other major cities, to be a sanctuary city for refugees. Finally, in the fourth section, I will do a case study on a woman named Aya featured on “Humans of New York,” whose family was granted citizenship to the U.S. only to have that acceptance retracted.

The concluding paragraph discusses the fear mongering that is occurring, and has occurred by U.S. citizens throughout history. Specifically, I will look at the idea of terrorism and how it applies to the current political and vetting processes for Syrian refugees. Through the exploration of not only the history of the Syrian region but of United States’ history of immigration and legislation as well, interconnected patterns begin to emerge. These patterns suggest that the current immigration process, which I will demonstrate is built on the foundation of fear, leaving out potential citizens who could contribute wholly to the United States.

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