America should be clamoring to take in refugees, and not just for humanitarian reasons.

There are currently more refugees in the world than at any time in history—and half of them are children.

As of the end of 2017, there were a record 68.5 million displaced people in the world. Of those, 25.4 million are refugees—the highest number the world has ever seen according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Refugees are not merely migrants looking for a better life. The U.N. defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence” and “has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.”


Refugees are distinct from asylum seekers as well, in that in order to obtain official refugee status your fear of persecution has to be verified as credible.

These are people who have shown that if they stay in their home country, they will either be targets for suffering or they will die. They have nowhere to go if other countries don't offer them safe haven. And half of them—more than 12 million of these refugees—are children.

Here's a mind-blower: In the face of this crisis, the U.S. is admitting the fewest number of refugees ever.

There are two things you need to know about where the U.S. stands right now when it comes to refugees:

1) We admitted fewer refugees last year than we did following the worst terrorist attack in history. (You know, when drastic security precautions were legitimately warranted.)

2) We are currently resettling fewer refugees in the U.S. than we ever have, though the need has never been greater.

Since 1975, some 3 million refugees have found a home in the U.S. through government resettlement programs, with an annual average ceiling of 96,000 per year.

The lowest annual number settled until recently was 2002—the year after 9/11—when 27,131 refugees were admitted.

In 2018, the U.S. admitted 22,491—the lowest number ever.

[rebelmouse-image 19504062 dam="1" original_size="799x649" caption="Credit: Migration Policy Institute" expand=1]Credit: Migration Policy Institute

And at our current pace, we will settle even fewer refugees than that in the 2019 fiscal year—far below the already historic low ceiling and below the historic low actually admitted last year.

It's unprecedented. And it's flat out wrong.

Suggesting we should resettle more refugees isn't just a humanitarian plea. It's economically and politically smart.

President Bush reduced the number of refugees in 2002 and 2003 following the 9/11 attack, but he didn't cut them off completely. He could easily have done so, saying, "It's too risky," or "Terrorists might sneak in," or "America is full." So why didn't he?

I can think of several good reasons, which are also reasons why we should be striving to increase—not decrease—the number of refugees we resettle:

1) Refugees have been shown to be good for the economy. Research shows that even when we account for the cost of getting them settled, refugees have a neutral-to-beneficial effect on the economy. In other words, they tend to create more revenue than it costs to bring them in. They are more likely to start businesses than the average American-born citizen, so they add jobs and boost the economy.

2) Helping refugees makes the country stronger. This just seems like common sense to me: If a family fleeing persecution is given a safe haven in a country that welcomes them with open arms and helps them get on their feet, that family will naturally feel a loyalty to and love for that country. They will convey that loyalty and love to their personal network, which increases that nation's sense of pride and lifts its status on the world stage.

3) Refugees pose practically no risk, as they are the most vetted people to enter our country. The refugee resettlement program is the longest, hardest, and least likely way to get into the United States, hands down. Most refugees don't get to choose their country of resettlement, and the ones who come to the U.S. are so thoroughly vetted that the chances of a bonafide terrorist slipping through the cracks is practically non-existent. With the 3 million refugees we've taken in in the past four decades, the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee on U.S. soil is a whopping 1 in 3.64 billion. You're literally more likely to be killed by your own clothing than to be killed by a refugee terrorist.

4) Helping desperate people keeps them out of terrorists' hands. Terrorists and radicals love to play the "America hates us all" game, and can easily use our isolationist policies as fodder to recruit desperate people. If developed nations with the means to help say, "Nope, we won't help you" and a radical militant group sweeps in and says, "See? They don't care about you. Come, we will give you what you need," what will people struggling to survive do?

There are lots of myths about refugees out there, and the vast majority are perpetuated by fearmongers. The facts show that there is no reason other than prejudice and unfounded fear to severely limit the number of refugees we're taking in.

America also has a long, bi-partisan legacy of helping refugees that has served us well.

Refugees also bring culture and innovation with them that enrich our society. Without refugees, we wouldn't have nifty things like video games, Sriracha hot sauce, Madeleine Albright, or the theory of relativity. Just think of all the amazing food and arts and interesting friendships we're missing out on.

It is in our DNA as a nation to open our doors to those in need. The U.S. was founded as a safe haven for persecuted people. We have regularly resettled more refugees than any other country, which has solidified our identity as a diverse "melting pot" or "tossed salad" society. We have taken in refugees through every administration, Republican and Democrat.

Perhaps that's why it feels so unnatural to severely limit the number of refugees we're admitting, especially since our economy is booming and the need is so great.

Refugees should be vetted, and we've proven we can do that. We can't take everyone, and no one says we should. But we have plenty of open space, a resettlement system that works, an economy that can handle the initial investment, and people willing to help refugees successfully assimilate.

Slashing our numbers is simply foolish and shortsighted. Not only does doing so hurt refugees—again, half of which are innocent children—but it hurts our country in the long run as well.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

Keep Reading Show less