Let’s Not Panic About Syrian Refugees

Much to the disappointment of many of my friends and readers, I tend to be a rational person. I don’t panic at the latest media or twitter hype. As long as I’m not in danger of a head-on collision requiring immediate action, I like to think about things a bit before I draw any conclusions.

The horrific terror attacks in Paris, have fueled fears about Syrian refugees entering the U.S.. I understand the immediate gut reaction, I had it too, then I started thinking about it and exploring the data. One of the keys to quelling these fears is to understand the difference between asylum seekers and refugees. The risk of radical Islamists entering Europe are high because their geographic location leads to asylum seekers, who are arriving unscreened and in large numbers. But refugees are highly screened and take years of processing before they are allowed to enter a country. The U.S. also has a great deal of control over who we let in.

I found a great article by Alex Nowrasteh at the CATO Institute that does an excellent job explaining the difference between asylum seekers and refugees, the statistics, and terrorism risks.

From CATO:

Syrian Refugees Don’t Pose a Serious Security Threat

Of the 859,629 refugees admitted from 2001 onwards, only three have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks on targets outside of the United States, and none was successfully carried out.  That is one terrorism-planning conviction for every 286,543 refugees that have been admitted.  To put that in perspective, about 1 in every 22,541 Americans committed murder in 2014.  The terrorist threat from Syrian refugees in the United States is hyperbolically over-exaggerated and we have very little to fear from them because the refugee vetting system is so thorough.

The brutal terrorist attack in France last Friday reignited a debate over accepting refugees from Syria and the Middle East.  A Syrian who applied for asylum could have been one of the attackers, although his passport was a forgery.  (As of this writing, all identified attackers have been French or Belgian nationals.) Governors and presidential candidates have voiced opposition to accepting any Syrian refugees, while several bills in Congress could effectively end the program.

There are many differences between Europe’s vetting of asylum seekers from Syria and how the United States screens refugees.  The geographic distance between the United States and Syria allows our government to better vet those seeking to come here, while large numbers of Syrians who try to go to Europe are less carefully vetted.  A lax security situation there does not imply a lax security situation here.

Continue reading here: Syrian Refugees Don’t Pose a Serious Security Threat

Dr. Holly A. Bell is a wanderer, ponderer, language learner and slaughterer, an optimistic pessimist writer of poetry and novels, and an interdisciplinary professor of Finance, Economics, and Business at the University of Alaska. She lives, loves, and writes in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska.

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