Baggio Husidic is a Bosnian-American soccer star who currently plays for the LA Galaxy. Baggio, 29, a seven-year MLS veteran has appeared in 143 games with two teams, and won an MLS Cup with the Galaxy. He is not only an American success story, but a refugee success story. For at age seven, Baggio and his family fled the Bosnian War, a war that killed 100,000 and displaced 2.2 million more — many of them Muslim, like Baggio’s family. Through many years of trials and tribulations, living in refugee camps and resettling to Germany, the family eventually made its way to Chicago where, through more years of hard-work, they finally found the American dream of home ownership and good jobs.
Today, Baggio sees himself in the plight of Syrian refugees, which the U.N. says is the worst refugee crisis since World War II, but says there is a big difference between “then and now.” Many Western countries, including the U.S., welcomed Bosnian refugees in the ‘90s, but have now turned their backs on Syrian refugees, claiming fears of terrorism. Encompassed in Trump’s Travel Ban (which has been blocked by federal courts) is a suspension of America’s refugee resettlement program, limiting the number of refugees to 50,000, less than half the 110,000 cap approved under the Obama administration. “I wouldn’t be here if those doors weren’t open,” says Baggio, a naturalized citizen. “People don’t understand.”
“Refugees come here with nothing or next to nothing. But they go to work very quickly,” says Randy Capps, director of research for U.S. programs at the Migration Policy Institute. “Within 10 years, they’re usually, on average, earning pretty close to what the average American earns.” Some refugees from the Middle East, and Syria in particular, do even better. “There’s this huge misconception that the U.S. is getting immigrants and refugees from Muslim countries that are poor and not contributing,” Mr. Capps continues. “Actually, the reverse is true. Historically, we’ve been getting the best and their brightest.”
“Every article I read is negative about refugees — how they’ll ruin America,” says Baggio. “But what about a story like mine?”