Libertarians and liberals are up in arms. Rand Paul – yes, that Rand Paul – a bunch of Republicans, and half the nation’s governors have said “NO!” to having Syrian refugees relocate to our country. After last week’s Paris attacks, and after at least one of the terrorists likely sneaked into France with a wave of Syrian refugees, some GOP leaders decided that maybe – JUST MAYBE – allowing a bunch of unvetted people into this country isn’t such a great idea.
The screeching in response is epic. Dave Bier at the Niskanen Center has published an article giving us six reasons to welcome Syrian refugees after Paris. The first reason is that apparently the Paris terrorists weren’t 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, it appears that he may have 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.
What I emphasized in the quote is precisely the point! There are thousands of refugees flowing into Europe. Vetting them all properly is nearly impossible, and certainly smaller EU nations don’t have the resources or assets to do so! Ultimately the problem may not even be legitimate refugees, but those hiding in their midst. This is the problem. No, we haven’t had an issue with refugees launching attacks on the United States. That’s always been a concern, but we’ve been lucky. That said, considering Da’esh has already threatened the United States, is it so unreasonable to assess that they could integrate themselves into the ranks of the refugees being allowed into this 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.
And guess what, that “multi-stage vetting process” is pretty much worthless if we don’t have assets in Syria to run checks on those who want to enter this country. U.S. counterterrorism officials have expressed concerns that they don’t have the resources in Syria to vet them effectively. There’s a civil war there. You think there are computer systems there that contain background information on those seeking asylum? Are there intelligence officers on the ground to collect intel? Are there U.S. forces on the ground to examine fingerprints and other biometric data? Just what is it that these people think we can do to properly vet them? The Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen, told the House Homeland Security Committee that this was definitely a concern. An FBI official agreed:
FBI official also questioned whether the U.S. intelligence community – with few assets on the ground in Syria and little insight into the country from elsewhere – can provide authorities with the information they need to properly determine whether any refugee could pose a threat.
“You have to have information to vet,” said FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach, who heads the bureau’s counterterrorism division. “Databases don’t [have] the information on those individuals, and that’s the concern.”
To be sure, this has nothing to do with racism, or a dislike for refugees, or anything else. The first responsibility of a government is to protect its citizens, and anyone who claims that this is not a legitimate national security concern, simply doesn’t understand national security!
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 one has committed an act of terrorism in the U.S. (update for those unwilling to read the source, the Boston bombers were not refugees). Traditional law enforcement and security screening processes have a proven record of handling the threat from terrorist posing as refugees.
Oh, don’t they?
In a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Chairman hearing, Patrick Mehan in 2012 contradicted that claim.
While the motivation behind creating these special immigrant categories were well-intentioned, the fact remains that in May 2011 two Iraqi nationals who were given refugee status and resettled in the United States were arrested and accused by the FBI of plotting to send weapons and money to al-Qaeda in Iraq. One of the men arrested had openly discussed his prior experience as an insurgent until Iraq and the IED attacks he participated in against U.S. troops. The fingerprints of the other Iraqi refugee who was charged were traced by the FBI to a component of an unexploded IED that was recovered by U.S. forces in northern Iraq.
Not one has committed an act of terrorism, because they were caught, thankfully before it was too late! And even in the case above, we had experts and assets, as well as personnel in Iraq that caught the scumbags who were given refugee status in 2011.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just this past September warned of the U.S. intelligence community’s “huge concern” that Da’esh may attempt to infiltrate Syrian refugees to enter Europe and possibly the United States.
And guess what! One of the Paris terrorists did, apparently infiltrate the flood of Syrian refugees and proceeded to participate in the carnage!
This isn’t “fearmongering.” This isn’t racism. This isn’t a hatred for refugees. This isn’t demagoguery. These are legitimate national security concerns that need to be addressed if we are to keep our population safe from attacks.
Does it suck for the legitimate refugees seeking asylum in the United States? Surely. I’m sure the vast majority are looking for a new, safer life. I get that. I’ve been there. That said, however, the U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement had more information on my family when we were coming to the United States in 1980 – FROM THE U.S.S.R. – than they do about any of the people seeking asylum from Syria today, and had information been as scarce about us back then, I would have advocated barring us from entry!
As I said previously, it is quite likely that the vast majority of the refugees seeking entry into the United States today are peaceable people. But how many does it take to launch an attack on a major city and paralyze it like the handful of terrorists did in Paris last week? It was a handful, and as far as we know today, only one came in with the wave of Syrian refugees under a false passport. One. It took a handful of terrorists to intimidate an entire country into a horrified, stunned stupor by attacking one city. A handful hiding in the thousands the current Administration is allowing into this country could wreak a similar havoc.
So don’t sit there and try to justify this inexcusable neglect for our national security with pictures of wide-eyed children whose families just want to seek protection within our shores. Even the United Nations admits that the majority of those seeking to come here are military-aged men.
Don’t accuse those opposing this neglect of racism and fearmongering. Don’t try to play politics with our national security.
The concerns are real. If you can’t see that, I can’t help you.