Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released a statement regarding the admission of Syrian refugees.
“I understand that many Americans want to help the Syrian refugees but have concerns about the vetting process in the wake of the attacks in Paris. The United States does have a rigorous process for vetting refugee applicants, which includes several in-person interviews by U.S. officials, security checks by multiple agencies, significant documentation, and a health screening. This process, which is the most rigorous vetting in the world, takes over a year. The process requires refugees to be vetted by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Departments of State and Defense. This review process includes biometric and biographic checks, interviews by specially trained officers who scrutinize the applicant’s explanation of individual circumstances to ensure the applicant is a genuine refugee and is not known to present security concerns to the United States. The process also includes an additional layer of enhanced classified screening measures for those refugees from Syria. In addition, the U.S. Government prioritizes admitting the most vulnerable Syrians, particularly female-headed households, children, survivors of torture, and individuals with severe medical conditions. In fact, of the 12 million Syrians displaced from their homes half are children. If our intelligence and homeland security professionals determine there’s a way to strengthen the existing process then those appropriate steps should be taken. Offering asylum for refugees, whatever conflict they are fleeing, is consistent with our values and history. We cannot turn our back on Syrian refugees. Turning them away on the basis of religion or ethnicity is inconsistent with our principles as a nation.”