Dispelling the Myth: The Refugee Screening Process

Since the terrorist attack over a week ago I have watched with horror as the story unfolded and information on the evil, insane perpetrators trickled in. I have also watched with growing frustration as the framework of the story around this tragedy has evolved from the horror of the event itself into an excuse for the West, particularly the US, to shirk their responsibility of providing succor for the Syrian refugees. Make no mistake, far more than a political issue, the refugee crisis is a moral one. People say they want to protect their safety while really it is their comfort they jealously guard. The question is not, “Is there cause to fear?” But rather, “Will I love my neighbor?”

To be fair, I do not begin to suggest that we abandon all attempts to protect ourselves. Most of the terrorists at Paris were homegrown and that is an ever present danger in America as well. I applaud the FBI and our police forces in their ever vigilant, and often thankless job of keeping us citizens safe. I wish them the best and continued effectiveness in their efforts.

I also understand the very real danger faced in Europe of terrorists sneaking in among the flood of refugees pouring across borders seeking to resume a life of dignity somewhere… anywhere. The refugee is stuck with the choice of returning to the bloodbath Bashar Assad and ISIS have made of their home, continuing to eke out a barely survivable existence as they wait, interminably wait, for their situation to change, or to try and take their situation in their own hands in seeking out a decent shelter by any means possible. Given those choices, I would probably try hitching a ride on a leaky boat as well. Perhaps if legitimate doors had opened wider sooner and if aid to the overworked, underfunded refugee camps were not so paltry Europe would not be in this mess.

America is a different story. Sneaking in as a refugee cannot happen the same way. The quickest and easiest way for a terrorist to get here would be to get to Mexico and then cross over into America. Coming in as a refugee under the screening process that is already in place is next to impossible. Each year the proposed ceiling for the number of refugees is around seventy thousand and although there is a slight increase proposed for next year, that is well within America’s capability to handle. Since 2001 over seven hundred fifty thousand refugees have passed this process and not a single one has been arrested or detained for even suspicion of terrorist activities. Our system works and it works well.

The only reason ISIS would even consider trying such a high risk, high cost, low reward gambit as to sneak someone through that process would be because they hate the Syrian refugees even more than Trump does. As long as the crisis remains unresolved, chaos reigns and they have more freedom to spread their particular brand of evil. Sensationalist media and fear mongering politicians trying to close doors and prolong the refugee’s plight are playing right into ISIS’s hands.

If ISIS did try to sneak someone in this way, they would have to go through the same eighteen to twenty-four month process that every legitimate refugee also goes through. I was half tempted to attempt writing out that entire process just to prove my point but instead, feel free to check out the wh.gov graphic here. Keep in mind that less than 1% of all applicants even make it through the first step, for Middle Eastern refugees iris biometric data is collected as well as fingerprints, and multiple agencies both national and international check this information against multiple databases multiple times. I won’t say sneaking a terrorist in to America as a refugee is impossible because nothing is impossible. After all, pigs might fly someday too.

pigs fly

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