As hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees look for resettlement, one difference between Germany and the United States has been put in sharp relief: our national sympathy. Germany has opened its doors to an unlimited number of refugees; the United States keeps proposing laws to keep them out.

One of the country’s airports is a particularly good example of that divide. The New York Times reports:

The scale of Germany’s challenge is evident at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, built to last by the Nazis, and used in 1948 and 1949 for the Berlin Airlift that, at its height, saw American C-47s landing every 90 seconds to bring the supplies essential for the preservation of freedom in part of the divided German capital. Now the vast 52-foot high hangars are being converted into shelters for thousands of refugees who sleep, 12 to each screened white rectangular bedroom unit, where aircraft were once housed. Already there are 2,600 or so refugees; there may eventually be 7,000. “It’s our duty to find a place for them,” Sascha Langenbach, a spokesman on Berlin social issues, told me. He predicted another 60,000 may come to the capital this year.

ProPublica’s Alec MacGillis pointed out a particularly alarming fact: the number of refugees in that single airport is greater than the number of Syrian refugees the United States has allowed in in all of 2015.

According to The Guardian, that number is somewhere around 1,869.

Meanwhile, the governors of 30 states have declared that they won’t allow refugees to settle in their states and, in the past few months, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, and Texas have all taken legal action to formally prevent refugees from settling.

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“Accepting refugees into the United States is one of our grandest traditions, and we’ve been doing it since the beginning, even before we were a nation,” said Lee Williams, vice president and CFO of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in an interview with The Guardian.

“It would be a real black mark on the United States’ reputation were we to stop this process, though I hope we won’t get to that point.”


Contact the author at joanna@jezebel.com.

Image of refugees at Tempelhof Airport via Getty.