Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History: Refugees Paying to Stay

Posted by Monica Brady-Myerov on March 21, 2016

Today’s News, Tomorrow’s History is an ongoing series with Listenwise. This series connects Facing History’s themes with today’s current events using public radio to guide and facilitate discussions around the social issues of our time. We will take a look at the current responses to the Syrian refugee crisis.  

The war in Syria has led to millions of refugees looking for safe haven from war and persecution, including many minors. Tens of thousands of refugees from Syria are flooding Europe and countries are beginning to feel overwhelmed. The international community is responding to this issue in a variety of ways. While some individuals and communities have been incredibly welcoming, other responses include the creation of refugee camps that don’t meet international standards.

Some fear that xenophobia may be one of the factors fueling the responses in Europe and the United States. After the terrorist attacks in Paris, some U.S. lawmakers voted to “pause” the Syrian refugee program out of fear that terrorists will enter the country disguised as refugees. These refugee and asylum seekers are often of the same culture and religion of people associated with terrorist attacks and are easy targets of blame for wars, violence, and social conflict.

Recently, Denmark passed a new law that some see as protecting their small country from absorbing a large number of refugees they cannot support. Others believe it is a violations of human rights. This law makes it legal to seize cash and valuables from people seeking asylum in Denmark to defray the cost of caring for Syrian refugees.

Who should be responsible for refugees fleeing war, persecution, and violence? What role do you think xenophobia is playing in the current crisis? What evidence can you cite on either side of the argument? Listen to hear more and debate whether refugees should pay countries that support them.

Join the conversation: Do you think it’s unfair to make refugees pay host countries? Who should pay the bill when a country becomes unlivable?

Keep the conversation going with Facing History’s resources:  

  1. Video: A Teacher from the Facing History School Talks About Terrorism and Religion With Students
  2. Becoming American
  3. What Do We Do with a Difference: France and the Debate Over Headscarves in Schools

Explore more stories about refugees from Listenwise:

  1. This audio story describes the surge of immigrants from Central America and what is driving them away from their countries.
  2. Use this story as a topic for debate. Read the Listenwise blog post to get started having debates in your classroom.

Listenwise helps teachers use public radio stories in their classrooms. To find more public radio stories and lessons for your middle and high school ELA, social studies, and science classrooms you can sign up for a free Listenwise account!

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Topics: International, Human Rights, Immigration, Refugees, Refugee Crisis, Today's News Tomorrow's History, Listenwise

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.


Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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