Syrian Refugees Already Face a 21-Step Vetting Process for Entering the U.S.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
A father and his child on long journey out of war-torn Syria (photo: Muhammed Muheisen, AP)

Conservatives expressing concern about the admission of Syrian refugees into the United States either don’t know or fail to mention that refugees already undergo an extremely difficult process to gain entry and that there are much easier ways for potential terrorists to enter the country.


Syrian refugees must complete a 21-step vetting program in order to qualify for entering the country, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP). The ordeal takes a year-and-a-half to two years to complete.


“The process is the most intensive of any check conducted for people seeking admission to the United States,” CAP’s Tom Jawetz and Ken Gude wrote. “It is specially designed to mitigate any threats and helps ensure Americans are not placed in harm’s way.”


Applicants are first screened by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees before undergoing multiple biographic checks by U.S. agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center. After that their case is reviewed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration before they receive final approval to live in the U.S.


“If at any stage in that process there is ever the slightest shadow of a doubt or the slightest whisper of suspicion, they are removed from the process. That is that,” Christopher Boian, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, told CNN.


As it is now, there are 38 countries whose citizens may enter the United States without a visa or any more screening than having their names checked against a watch list and clearing immigration upon arrival.


“(The refugee process) would take 18 months to two years. Under the visa waiver program, it could take 24 hours,” Senator Angus King (I-Maine) told CNN. “The target of our work should be strengthening the visa waiver program.


“We do need to pay attention to whether the terrorists could infiltrate the refugee flow. I don't think it’s something we should ignore, but the amount of vetting that goes on there already is very through,” King said.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Infographic: The Screening Process for Entry to the United States for Syrian Refugees (Center for American Progress)

John Oliver Breaks Down the Syrian Refugees’ Tough Vetting Process to Republican Fear-Mongers (by Marlow Stern, Daily Beast)

Entering the U.S. as Refugees Would Be the Hardest Way for Would-Be Terrorists (by Jeremy Diamond, CNN)

Would Jesus Have Turned Away Syrian Refugees? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)


Michael Brown 8 years ago
According to information released by the administration 2% of the Syrian refugees are Christian. 10% of Syrian populuation are Christians. Some time ago the administration hinted that it would not consider Christians as refugees. After Obama said recently that a religion test for refugee status was wrong and un-American, it is clear that he is invoking such a test against Christians, even though they, unlike Muslims, face genocide in Syria.

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