By David Bier
After the attacks on Paris, many politicians–including (so far) the governors of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Texas–have called for stopping refugee flows to the United States from the Middle East, claiming that the refugee process poses a major threat to America’s security. Here are six reasons why ending U.S. refugee resettlement is a senseless and reactionary approach:
1. The Paris attackers were not refugees: Assuming that the user of a fake Syrian passport found near the body of an attacker belonged to the attacker, which isn’t clear, he exploited the flow of people into Europe, but he was not a refugee. He did not receive refugee designation from the United Nations or vetting from intelligence agencies. He was never approved for refugee status in any country. To become a refugee in the United States, you undergo a multi-stage vetting process and only after receiving U.N. designation by trained officers in the field. The U.S. can vet refugees prior to admission, which means we can weed out terrorists and those most likely to become involved in terrorism, accepting only the most vulnerable. Europe cannot do the same. What happened in Paris is not applicable to the U.S. refugee process.
2. U.S. refugees don’t become terrorists: The history of the U.S. refugee program demonstrates that the lengthy and extensive vetting that all refugees must undergo is an effective deterrent for terrorists. Since 1980, the U.S. has invited in millions of refugees, including hundreds of thousands from the Middle East. Not onehas committed an act of terrorism in the U.S. Traditional law enforcement and security screening processes have a proven record of handling the threat from refugees.
3. Other migration channels are easier to exploit than the U.S. refugee process: The previous point can also be made another way. Non-refugees havecarried out all terrorist attacks over the past 35 years. That means they used other means to arrive in the U.S. All of the 9/11 hijackers used student or tourist visas. These visas are much easier and faster to obtain than refugee status, which takes up to two years and requires a multi-stage vetting process and U.N. referral. Refugee status is the single most difficult way to come to the U.S. It makes no sense for a terrorist to try to use the resettlement process for an attack.
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