Refugees: Security Must Come First

The Florida Times Union, September 26, 2015 | Go to article overview

Refugees: Security Must Come First


The Obama administration needs to resist its well-meaning but misguided and potentially dangerous attempt to speed up admittance of Syrian refugees.

There are too many possibilities that even a few of these refugees will show up as terrorists in the United States.

Consider, for instance, the Tsarnaev brothers, the Boston marathon bombers, whose family members were ethnic Chechens who fled the violence in their homeland for a better life in America. The boys, it was said with stunning understatement, never fit in.

America doesn't need to be importing trouble from Syria, one of the most violent places on the planet.

Granted, millions of Syrians are fleeing or being kicked out of their war-town country, a total of 4 million refugees and 7 million displaced.

That's a tragedy, certainly, illustrated by the child's body that washed up on a Turkish beach. But there always are global tragedies that affect millions.

What's different since Sept. 11, 2001, is that the United States homeland is a target.

It's a worrisome sign that President Barack Obama has directed the State Department to prepare for at least 10,000 Syrians in the next 12 months. That is more than can be safely checked out and vetted. After all, the United States has accepted only 1,600 Syrian refugees since the conflict started four years ago.

Since 9/11, the United States has set up a thorough security process for refugees. It involves screening by the National Counter Terrorism Center and the FBI Terrorist Screening Center - not to mention checking the databases of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community, reports The New York Times.

Another level of security would be appropriate when the refugee comes from a terrorist haven like Syria.

This process is long, taking 18 to 24 months for Syrians. If Congress wants to appropriate more funding to speed up the process, fine, but don't start cutting security measures when lone wolf attacks are so difficult to prevent.

As Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in The Wall Street Journal, "ISIS and other terrorist groups have made it abundantly clear that they will use the refugee crisis to try to enter the United States. The administration has essentially given the American people a aetrust me. …

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