Extensive screenings on refugees approved by house

Fabienne Fleurantin / Contributing Writer

Members of the House of Representatives convened Thursday, Nov. 19, voting in favor of extensive screening on Syrian and Iraqi refugees.These measures arrived after erupting fears from the Paris terror attacks.

This bill stated that it “would require the director of the FBI, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence confirm that each applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat,” according to The New York Times. All refugees will be subject to background checks, but Syrians will go through “the most rigorous screening of any traveler to the U.S.,” reported Time in its online website.

In order to gain asylum into the U.S., refugees must receive a referral from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Registration for this process includes in-depth interviews, home country reference checks and biological screenings, such as iris scans. Once referred, our government has their own series of checks to conduct, which requires input from nine different government agencies.

To determine whether there are terrorists among the influx of refugees, there will be an in-person interview by an officer of the Department of Homeland Security, fingerprint collection matched to criminal databases and the vetting of past visa applications to corroborate with the applicant’s story. Just over 50 percent get in, and this whole process takes eighteen to 24 months on average to complete.

The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said: “People are very nervous, very worried about this,” and they should be. In the NY Times, “The White House called the demands ‘untenable’,” and I couldn’t help but agree. The level of protection is understandable, stemming from the urge to guard the republic and its people, but to what extent? Rummaging through the history of war torn asylum seekers is a tedious task. The attacks that occurred in Paris were a horrendous incident that plagued France, and an all too familiar stance for America. However, this is all fed by fear.

I do not submit that we bypass these checks. There are necessary precautions to take when foreigners enter the country. Nevertheless, to continue with these extreme procedures leads to the discrimination and marginalization of every Syrian refugee left to be vilified as a threat to the National Security of the United States of America.

President Obama tweeted, “Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our
deepest value. That’s not who we are.” We both have a common enemy. In the midst of all this chaos, these refugees are fleeing their homes from the same people who threatened to destroy ours. Now, the crisis that was once a priority in people’s minds has shifted into exclusion.

There is no correct prediction of who could be a possible extremist. Terrorism has no face. It is a constantly evolving entity and it may elude us at times. We must proceed with unbiased caution, or we will fall victim to preconceived conclusions.

[Image from Flickr]