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Officials overseeing the government refugee program Syrian refugees would be part of to come to the United States sought Thursday to quell the American people’s fears about the program, calling it “rigorous” and “robust.”
During a hearing held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, Obama administration officials who oversee the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program outlined the process refugees go through before they are able to come to the United States.
“We need to make sure the American people understand, in a calm, reasoned dialogue, what we are doing because what we are doing is rigorous, it is redundant, it is extensive and it is careful. It is a meaningful, rigorous, robust process that we are engaging in as aggressively as possible,” Leon Rodriguez, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Thursday.
“I do think we need to think about the costs of inaction.”
However, Mark Krikorian, president of the Center for Immigration Studies, said having the government screen Syrian refugees to ensure none are terrorists is a futile task.
“Proper screening of people from Syria cannot be done. We are giving our people an assignment they cannot accomplish successfully,” he said. “We imagine in a modern developed country like ours that everybody in the world leaves behind them the kind of electronic traces that we do. … But the fact is those traces, those tracks are nonexistent in the rest of the world.”
The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program works with the cooperation of the Departments of State, Defense and Homeland Security, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the intelligence community. Refugees are referred by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and undergo extensive background checks, and the Department of Homeland Security crosschecks biographical and biometric data with federal and international databases before an in-person is administered.
According to Rodriguez, interviews do not have a set time, but rather take “as long as it needs to take.”
The full extent of the program’s security protocols are not disclosed by the government to the public, and the process for refugees takes between 18 and 24 months.
Since last week’s terror attacks in Paris, Congress has turned its attention to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, and specifically the Obama administration’s orders to admit at least 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. The terror attacks left 129 people dead and more than 350 injured, and, according to reports, a fake Syrian passport was found near the scene of one of the attacks.
Republicans are pushing for the government to “press pause” on the Syrian refugee program temporarily and passed legislation requiring each Syrian refugee applying for resettlement to be approved by a number of top Obama administration officials.
Additionally, some GOP lawmakers and governors have called for the Obama administration to only allow Christian refugees to come to the United States.
“Can you name for me or identify for me a suicidal…