MEDIA

The Argument Against Accepting Refugees Has Almost No Basis In Reality

Refugee resettlement doesn't make the U.S. vulnerable to terrorism. The visa program, on the other hand...

If history is any indication, the United States refugee program has hardly been a welcome mat for would-be terrorists.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has accepted 785,000 refugees. Of them, only 12 have been arrested or removed due to terrorism concerns, Chuck Todd said in a Sunday "Meet the Press" segment.

So how much is that? One percent? One tenth of 1 percent? One hundredth of 1 percent?

Actually, no. It's about one thousandth of 1 percent.

"None of the folks removed were Syrian, by the way," Todd said Sunday. "The fact is, it's not easy to get into America via the refugee process." 

Syrians escaping civil war and violence have fled their homeland in droves during the past four years. After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris (carried out by the very people Syrians are trying to escape), many in the U.S. have claimed terrorists will try to sneak into the country via the lengthy and rigorous intake process for refugees.

All of the known terrorists in the Paris attacks were European nationals, but anti-refugee fears spiked in the West after it was reported that one of the attackers appeared to have used a fake Syrian passport to pass through Greece, Serbia and Croatia. At least one European official has suggested that the person using the passport was not a genuine Syrian refugee, but rather was an Islamic State operative deliberately creating a misleading paper trail to cast suspicion on refugees.

Last week, House lawmakers supported a bill that would pause the admission of Syrian and Iraqi refugees to the U.S.  

Those refugees who ultimately do get entry to the U.S. are in rare company. 

According to Todd, the United Nations has referred about 23,000 Syrian refugees to the U.S. From that pool, the Department of Homeland Security interviewed 7,000 refugees, fewer than one-third of the total. And of the lucky ones to be interviewed, just 2,165 were ultimately accepted.

Todd also noted that all 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers came into the U.S. on visas.

"The real vulnerability that U.S. lawmakers might want to look into is not the refugee process," he said. "It's those traveling into the U.S. with visas or with European passports."

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