James Shott / Nov. 24, 2015

The Syrian Refugee Program: Shortsighted and Dangerous

Compassionate impulses are countered by the need for due caution.

Americans are sharply divided over the Syrian refugee situation. Compassionate impulses are countered by the need for due caution.

Barack Obama’s White House, which thinks any of the Syrian refugees ought to be welcomed with open arms, reports the following:

  • The United Nations High Commission on Refugees has referred 23,092 refugees to the U.S. Refugees Admission Program.
  • The Department of Homeland Security has interviewed 7,014 of them since FY 2011.
  • Of that number, 2,034 Syrian refugees have been admitted since FY 2011.
  • So far, none of the 2,034 Syrian refugees have been arrested or removed on terrorism charges.

This information is intended to show the American people that the vetting process for these refugees works flawlessly, but even some government officials — as in the directors of the FBI and National Intelligence — do not hold that view.

The pro-Syrian refugee crowd regards as anti-refugee those who cite reasons for being cautious about bringing refugees to the U.S. Obama says proponents of caution are engaged in religious stereotyping and scapegoating, and are afraid of women and orphans. Such rhetoric itself is a signal that caution is what the pro-refugee crowd fears most.

What follows are some very good reasons for exercising caution.

  1. Honduran authorities arrested five Syrians last week with stolen or doctored Greek passports that they said were headed for the U.S. Later, authorities said the five Syrian men were actually college students fleeing the war in their homeland. Note to the “bring refugees to America” crowd: Why would college students use fake passports to enter the U.S., and if they thought of using stolen or doctored passports, might not it be possible for terrorists to do the same?

  2. No less an authority than FBI Director James Comey has said that our government has no real way to conduct background checks on refugees. “We can only query against that which we have collected,” he explained. “And so if someone has never made a ripple in the pond in Syria in a way that would get their identity or their interest reflected in our database, we can query our database until the cows come home, but there will be nothing show up because we have no record of them.”

  3. Over the summer, a U.S. Transportation Security Administration report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General found that 73 aviation workers, employed by airlines and vendors, had alleged links to terrorism. How did they get past the vetting system and get hired?

  4. The brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon in 2013, killing three and injuring nearly 300 others, were refugees, as their family sought political asylum in the U.S. in 2002. Through the years the Muslim brothers became more and more hostile to the U.S., and Russia’s FSB warned the FBI about them in 2011, but the FBI found no connections to radical Islam. Yet two years later they set bombs at the Marathon in “retribution for U.S. military action in Afghanistan and Iraq” as one of the brothers wrote in a note. Radicals can hide here, and people who come here as peaceful immigrants can evolve into radicals after they come here.

So, after considering these factors the question then becomes, “what amount of risk to the safety of Americans do the refugee advocates think is acceptable?”

It is certainly appropriate for us to try to help the actual refugees, but we must not expose even one American to a terrorist hiding among the refugees. The Islamic State has pledged to come here, and it is foolish to believe that terrorists will not use the refugee situation to infiltrate the U.S. We must not ignore the weaknesses in the vetting process for Syrian refugees.

Most of the refugees don’t speak our language, most or all do not understand our ways, and many things we do in the U.S. are at odds with the tenets of Islam. With such vastly different ideas about life and living, will they really be comfortable in America? And how can we guard against radicalization among some refugees after they come here, as occurred with the Chechen brothers who bombed the Boston Marathon?

There just is simply no good reason to bring them here when we can assist them to settle somewhere that is closer to their homeland, both geographically and culturally. They will be happier, and America will be more secure.

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