Refugee screening questioned by US lawmakers

American flag on poleA number of lawmakers in the Republican Party have expressed fears that terrorists could slip into the United States by posing as immigrant refugees from Syria. Immigration officials refute these concerns, however, saying that the country has the best security proceedings possible in place in order to process the thousands of refugees who are waiting to be resettled.

“With more and more refugees seeking to reach Europe from Syria and its neighbors, there will be of course those seeking to take advantage,” chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen noted during the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Tuesday, during which lawmakers heard from aid officials and US immigration. “If we cannot guarantee the vetting of these refugees, it would be irresponsible for us to promote it.”

Immigration officials claim the first step in resettling Syrian immigrants is to determine their status as refugees based upon whether they have a well-founded reason to fear persecution as legally defined. Agencies then try to resettle the most vulnerable refugees, such as the sick, children and widows. All refugees have to undergo security screening prior to being allowed entry to the United States.

California Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher notes that many of the would-be immigrants appear to young military age men, who he says should be off fighting radical Islam if they are indeed against such people; however, officials claim just 2% of refugees taken in by the US last year were young men.