Fact Sheet: Syrian Refugee Resettlement

In the wake of the November 13 attacks on Paris, there is heightened concern that terrorists connected with ISIS will use the mass movement of refugees and economic migrants in the world to gain access to the United States. The United States currently maintains the most generous refugee program in the world. Typically, the State Department sets a goal of admitting half of the total refugees certified for placement by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2013, the United States took 67 percent of all refugees.

The president is currently recommending expanding this already-generous program by increasing admissions of Syrian refugees from 1,500 to 10,000, with a total increase of 45,000 worldwide refugees over the next two years. Given the insufficient screening measures currently in place, conservatives should oppose funding for the administration’s increase in the number of refugees until Congress can pass legislation that guarantees an appropriate congressional role in ensuring stronger screening procedures.

Refugees and Asylees: According to U.S. immigration law, a refugee is a person who is 1) of special humanitarian concern to the United States, 2) fears persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group, 3) has not firmly resettled in another country, and 4) is admissible to the United States. A further distinction must be drawn between asylees, who are already in the country in which they are seeking asylum, and refugees, who apply for permanent resettlement from a temporary resettlement location.

Asylum cases are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and there is no cap on the number of asylees that can be admitted to the United States. Refugees are usually out of the country from which they are fleeing, and are temporarily resettled in a short-term refugee camp (such as those in Jordan). This distinction ensures that those who need help the most are able to receive it.

The U.S. is already the number one country of resettlement for refugees in the world, resettling 66,200 of 98,400 total refugees in 2013. Before the beginning of each fiscal year, the President establishes an overall refugee admissions ceiling along with regional allocations. Once settled, refugees and asylees are given expedited access to legal permanent residency (LPR) and are put on a fast track to citizenship (which they can seek after four years as a LPR).

Difficult Vetting Procedures: It is extremely difficult to vet refugees from war-torn areas where there has been a complete breakdown of governmental control and authority. It is even harder in Arabic-speaking regions of the world, because of linguistic and cultural differences. Problems often begin with name identification, which is necessary to establish past history and determine whether members have been imprisoned or affiliated with any insurgency. These difficulties are compounded by how guarded Middle Eastern refugees are concerning motivations, which even the best regional experts have difficulty detecting. There is a history of failed assessments of Middle Eastern refugees, sometimes with grave consequences.

Additionally, many migrants currently entering Europe lack a legitimate claim for asylum. Many are economic migrants, seeking a better life for themselves and their families, but are not in danger of persecution. Many immigrants from poor, but otherwise stable countries, are currently claiming to be fleeing Syria, with a black market in Syrian passports booming. Given a systematic lack of documentation, distinguishing legitimate refuge-seeking from fraud can be difficult.

Due to this lack of documentation and inability to conduct name identification, FBI Director James Comey noted that the bureau does not currently have the ability to conduct thorough background checks on all refugee applicants. In his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, he stated “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.”

Furthermore, according to Steven Bucci and David Inserra of The Heritage Foundation, there is precedent for screening and background checks to give way to political imperatives in the processing of refugees. According to their backgrounder published in October 2015, “when the Administration implemented its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, it was not prepared for the workload and moved to a ‘lean and lite’ system of background checks, where cases were quickly approved even when lacking information or documents.”

Radicalization: In addition to the threat of radicals slipping through gaps in the system, there is also a threat of radicalization once refugees are present in the United States. The United States is already struggling to prevent the radicalization of current residents by ISIS propaganda, with Minnesota having launched anti-radicalization programs in response to a large number of Somali refugees joining ISIS. The Boston Marathon bombing was perpetrated by asylees who radicalized while present in the United States. According to a November 2014 report by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, 13% of Syrian refugees have a view ISIS that is at least “positive to some extent,” with 4% having a “positive” view. Given ISIS’s history of effective propagandizing via social media, it is likely that they will be able to capitalize on some of these predilections.

Call to Action: When crafting refugee policy, the United States must ensure that humanitarianism is balanced by a prudent concern for national security. Congress is currently debating Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which contains significant deficiencies. Though it sets up a more stringent vetting system for Syrian refugees, it provides no leverage for Congress to weigh in and only requires that the vetting process be “certified” by the president’s appointees before allowing refugees to continue.  Congress should push for a thorough and transparent vetting process, and should deny funding to the president’s program until such a process is established. The December 11th appropriations deadline provides an opportunity for Congress to use a legislative rider defunding the president’s expansion, after which Congress may work with security experts to pass legislation establishing a screening process and mechanism for lawmakers to affirm the administration is implementing the new process correctly.

Please Share Your Thoughts

48 thoughts on “Fact Sheet: Syrian Refugee Resettlement

    • Terrorists will certainly make their way into our country! We give at least a third of all humanitarian aid for the refugees! That should be sufficient! W e spending Billions fighting their war for them. We have given more than any other country! There are RICH muslim nations that won’t take in any! Speak to them “Move up to the plate”.!

  1. Sounds like our “president”? is trying his best to further ruin this Country by importing another group of Muslims to bolster the Democrat Voting base, with little regard to the safety or security of the citizens of this “Once Great Nation”. He needs to be Impeached and indicted for failure to uphold his oath of office to “Protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, against all enemies, foreign or domestic. He has allowed mass immigration of illegals from not only Mexico, but the rest of the world, through failure to protect our borders, allowing sanctuary cities, and encouraging mass, unfettered storming of our southern borders.
    His entire time in office has been spent “Campaigning and Complaining” against the Republican Party, without any REAL leadership of governance of the country as a whole.
    He has been the most derisive president to ever hold office, not to speak of the Absolute WORSE president….. EVER!

    • Conservatives are definitely of the sky is falling mentality. Jumping to conclusions in their anti Obama hysteria. I am willing to wait and see how the administration balances the urgency of the situation with security issues. Of course the Obama haters con not wait being the impatient children that they are!

      • Yes, Vernon . . . There are people that “wait and see” and there are those that feel THINKING (not emotional reaction) through different scenarios is important. I wouldn’t just let anyone into my house to spend the night with my children – would you? I think that most conservatives are thinking out of the box on the refugee subject – but, our president seems to be tunnel visioned.

        • Arm them n let them fight for their own dirt. Idiots like vernon will get people killed. I have no more patience with this issue. I served faithfully n now I watch a many dismiss the actions of Obama. We avoid saying words these days like liar or sympathizer, folks like Vern there question our motives yet when Obama openly does something they say it isnt possible. Give me a break.

    • Abigail, I support stopping Syrian refuges form entering this country until such a time we can run a thorough background check, however in regards to your comment I am a first generation American and I strive to learn as much about this country as I possible can. I am proud to be American and am a Conservative even though I was not born, not bred in America.

      • I welcome you and admire your search for the meaning for what it means to be American. In my experience, immigrants are often the most well-informed on this, simply because they are fully aware that there’s a difference between here and elsewhere. Modern America naively thinks everyone else thinks and lives like we do, and evil just happens to occur. (Usually elsewhere.) We lack context that those like you can bring home to us. Thank you for speaking out!

  2. Here’s the test: If we now have 14,000,000 illegal aliens we have not vetted, and (supposedly) cannot account for, why the big hubub about the Syrians? If we just do what we have done all along, (nothing) about our borders, they’soon be here on there own. Since there will be thousands of them, congress will collapse again, and say the problem is too big to deal with. Then they’ll have a wonderful $2-3 million dinner at the White House with the Emporer, and congradulate themselves, and maybe vote themselves a raise. America, you had better freeking WAKE UP! The Emporer has stolen our country, and is in the process of giving it to the Communists!!!!

  3. I was an anti-corruption manager in Iraq and AFghanistan. I have watched the three congressional hearings on Refugee Resettlement and the State Dept and DHS managers can’t talk in specifics. They float around questions with craftily created wording and I would not trust anything they say about ability to vett Syrians or any Refugees. I am amazed that Congress members let them off the hook with vague statements and lack of measurable results of their programs. Never forget Muslims preach Taqiyya which is to lie to non-believers to advance Islam. That means it is ok to lie, lie, lie (sounds like Obama) to get entrance to the US. If Syrians will be rejected they will just get fake passports and pretend to be from an acceptable country to get into the US. We need to stop taking refugees from third world countries, and go back to the early method of only accepting European descended refugees AND only Christians. When have you seen a picture of a Christian dangling a person’s head from their arm, like happens at lease daily if you watch enough news reports.

  4. We should cease all refugee resettlement under the current program and defunding this program would be terrific, but the runaway Congress won’t do it, they have been assimilated by the elitists and feed off the trough of power and greed with their only focus on being re-elected. Americans are fed up and the lot in DC is the least trust lot on the planet.

    • Yes, this is true Jeff. Our federal government is now run by professional politicians who have NO interest in what the American people want and/or need. They are only interested in their reelection and in lining their own pockets!

  5. It’s becoming clear to me that the management of the USA is incapable of saying “NO” to big lobbyists from whom they receive most of their donations. Until we can find and elect real Americans that have no “conflicts of interest” I suggest we shut down any further immigration. Our leaders and elected officials are leaving us with no good alternatives. Civil disobedience and illegal acts may be all that are left to us.

  6. Pingback: Failed Vetting History of Refugees | Larry Bateman

  7. There has never been a follow-up study to see how happy/content/satisfied the refugees are after they’d been here for a number of years and everything looks like most of them are not happy and not assimilated into American society. Since most of them are Muslim, it appears that the huge disparity in values might account for this.

  8. It is way past time when our government leaders in Congress put the safety and well being of American citizens first, not illegal aliens, not muslims who want to jump on the welfare band wagon, and certainly not anyone who has evil intentions and is not willing to embrace American ideals and values.

  9. Why do the leaders of this world seem to be totally blind to the reality that faithful Muslims who immigrate to western nations will NOT assimilate into non-Muslim cultures? Pay attention: They CANNOT…and still be faithful Muslims (i.e., followers of the Qur’an and Sharia law).

    This is the key concept that so many countries are naively ignoring today. The crux of the Islamic culture is totally anathema to our Constitution’s inherent focus on: 1) the separation of powers that are designed to RESTRICT government overreach; and, 2) emphasizing the supremacy of individual rights. (And, to some degree, these basic constitutional provisions are somewhat similar to those in all western democratic countries.)

    For this reason, and because there was a general “separation” of God’s and man’s laws (and the enforcement thereof) in all of the home countries, America was able to accept immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Japan, China, and Viet Nam…and even Israelis living in Europe and Russia. Why? Because the 1st Amendment to our Constitution guaranteed them the free practice of their religion, so long as it did not violate OUR civil law! Essentially, immigrants could assimilate WITHOUT losing their cultural identity. However, Muslims can’t DO that…and still remain faithful to Allah and his “prophet!”

    In Muslim countries, the basis of all “civil” law IS religious law. They are one in the same! Violations of religious law are adjudicated in religious courts; and serious penalties are imposed for what we would deem minor infractions. Their cultural identity is embodied in Sharia, and their belief system dictates that Islamic law supersedes ALL civil laws. They are taught that no other beliefs are acceptable, that all other cultures are subservient, and that they are authorized to impose, thru coercion or force (Jihad), their culture and their religious tenets on ANYONE that is a non-believer (i.e., an infidel). Hence, since Muslims will NEVER assimilate, we would be very, very foolish to ever let them immigrate to America!

    • I could not agree more. There are a great number of refugees in Jordan at this time. If the U.S. wants to help, why not send Jordan the money we would spend here for the refugees. Then at some point they could go back to Syria.

  10. American citizens need to understand that Islam is not just a ‘religion’. It is also the controlling body of laws that includes the power to implement and enforce all of those laws. Technically you are a Muslim, in Islam’s view, if your father was a Muslim. And no one disputes that Obama’s father WAS a Muslim. So, saying Obama is a Muslim has real components of truth; and the supposition is supported by his actions. Muslims are required by their law to promote and protect Islam. Out of political expedience, Obama may not openly practice the religious part of Islam, but he certainly is promoting and protecting Islam and Muslims on many fronts. Why??? Because Barack (or Barry) was reared by people and a population (Muslim-dominated Indonesia) who have no love for America. They taught, and he learned, his hate for us from them. And today, he sides with others who also hate us.


    “It is the height of lunacy for a government official to welcome in tens of thousands of refugees when we know that among them will be ISIS terrorists.” – Sen. Ted Cruz.

  11. As long as there are nations in the Middle East that are refusing to take Syrian “refugees,” the United States should not even consider it. Why would you take tens of thousands of people and place them on the other side of the planet from their homeland. You’re placing them in a country where they will be a religious minority, unable to speak or read the language, and unlikely to find a job that will support them. This seems terribly abusive to me.

  12. America, wake up this government is out of control. they are all holding there hands out for a freebee Our country is in bad shape. We better vote in someone whom is not a Democrate The ones we have know are a shame to our country..

    • Our government it totally out of control and the blame falls exactly on obullshit’s lies and criminal behavior falls directly on his shoulders. He is out to destroy the American way of life by choking us with illegals from Mexico and now giving food and shelter to our worst enemies: Isis and Is. The whole civilized world laughs at him while we are being punished by our own government. He should be impeached, arrested, imprisoned, tried for treason and executed. Nothing else will do!

  13. We are being told that the President wants to admit 10,000 refugees within the next 12 months but we shouldn’t worry because we will apply a minimum of 18 month to 24 month vetting process to ensure that no terrorists are accepted. The President’s “Calculus” seem to be a little flawed to me.


  15. Just go to Trunews.com and find out what will happen to the U.S.A. very soon. How about carving out a country for A

    How about carving out a country for the Refugees in N. Africa or the Middle East. Saudi Arabia and other have plenty of vacant land. Meanwhile, listen to Trunews.com and find out what the real truth is.

  16. Pingback: Liberalphobic.com » Blog Archive » LIBERALS PLAN TO CONTROL THREE MAJOR EFFORTS IN DECEMBER.

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