Tag Archives: refugee crisis

Transparency clarifies immigration process for Syrian refugees

WASHINGTON – How to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis has a renewed new prominence in U.S. immigration reform debate because of the Paris terrorist attacks. But amid the discussion and finger-pointing, data journalists are trying to use new skills in showing how processes work to provide clear facts on what steps refugees must take to enter the U.S.

President Barack Obama, during a joint White House news conference with French President Francois, Hollande, noted that refugees entering the United States go through a rigorous screening process, a reference to claims that at least one of the terrorists involved in the recent Paris attacks entered that country hidden among Syrian refugees.

“Nobody who sets foot in America goes through more screening than refugees,” Obama said. “As Francois has said, our humanitarian duty to help desperate refugees and our duty to our security—those duties go hand in hand.”

Keeping Syrian refugees out of the U.S., on grounds that they could be ISIS terrorists, has been a big subject for 2016 presidential candidates. However a House bill that passed last Thursday to suspend a refugee program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees garnered 47 Democrat votes as well. Many are concerned about the vetting process, while others cite the need to prioritize which refugees to admit, such as persecuted Christians in the Syrian region.

“We have to be concerned about the safety of the people of the United States,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher , R-Calif.,, during a recent joint Homeland Security Committee hearing. “If it means prioritizing and making sure that we do differentiate and say the Christians that are now the most vulnerable are the ones that are going to have the most priority, let’s go for it.”

Obama has said he would veto the bill.

The New York Times recently released an easy-to-read infographic detailing the vetting process for refugees into 20 steps. It consists of multiple security checks, interviews, referrals and fingerprint screenings.

Syrian refugees undergo additional steps, including review by a Citizenship and Immigration Services refugee specialist. While France is preparing to take in 30,000 Syrian refugees, it is widely reported that the United States has taken no more than 2,000 Syrian migrants since the civil war started in 2011.

A visual explanation of the process can provide sound information and clarity to Americans who have opinions on allowing refugees into the country but who don’t know what current restrictions are.