The recent atrocities in Paris highlight the issues over whether the masses have been infiltrated and, if so, how many numbers and how proportionately. With the relatively free passage around Europe and across borders this issue does not sit comfortably with all developed countries promoting liberty and freedom of passage. The big question is how do you background check a ‘refugee’ who arrives with the clothes on their back, some scant belongings and a passport. There are now serious concerns as to whether the mass migration may well be seen in time as a terrorist coup. Can a cast iron guarantee ever be offered for a background check on a refugee from a country suffering the ravages of a prolonged civil war.

One Paris terrorist has been identified as originating from Syria and gaining access to the European mainland via the Greek Islands. Whether the passport details are also correct and/or whether they have been lifted from a deceased Syrian citizen remains to be seen. A passport alone does not a background check make. How are we to distinguish when determining genuine humanitarian issues without the danger of marginalizing or profiling. Are we to embrace the obvious cases of hardship i.e. single mothers or families with children and bar single men between the ages of 18 to 30 years of age or whatever the data and statistics tell us. “Single men of combat age” currently represent around 2% of refugees admitted for processing of their applications.

Currently applications by Syrian refugees are taking somewhat longer than the typical applications for refugees at 12 > 18 months. Data also confirms that around 2,200 refugees from Syria have entered the U.S. since the war started. However the atrocities in Paris has only heightened debate as to whether the States should accommodate Syrian refugees. A number of Republican governors have confirmed that they will firmly close the door to their states making it difficult. However they do not have legal authority to block borders.

A lot of attention has been centered around how a background check or vetting can be successfully applied. A number of Federal Agencies which include The Defense Department, State Department, FBI, the National Counter Terrorism Center and the Department of Homeland Security all have input and this is arguably the most arduous process for entry in to the States. To date Syrian refugees admitted in to The U.S. have been dispersed to 36 states and within 138 towns and cities. California has embraced the most at 252, followed by Texas (242) and thirdly Michigan placing 207.

The agencies who conduct the background check use biometric and biographical information to ensure individuals are who they say they are. All applicants will be interviewed by DHS officers who have training in the screening process coupled with a higher level of more specialized and specific training for Iraqi and Syrian refugee cases. An additional layer of security is provided known as The Syria Enhanced Review process. It is claimed that there is a far more robust background check process in place today as a result of their efforts in 2007 at the time of processing large scale Iraqi applications.

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