The narrative about refugee resettlement spun by the invite-the-world crowd is that refugees pose no threat to Americans. To pick only the first link to pop up in Google, see this from VOA: "UNHCR: Refugees Pose No Threat to US National Security". This is because they are "rigorously vetted," "the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation."
The problem is that vetting is only as good as the information available. And we simply don’t have access to information that would successfully identify potential bad guys. In my testimony on this a while back, I quoted FBI Director Comey:
“The only thing we can query is information that we have. So, if we have no information on someone, they've never crossed our radar screen, they've never been a ripple in the pond, there will be no record of them there and so it will be challenging.”
That was from 2015. Comey’s testimony last week revealed the consequences of this lack of information. While most of the time he was asked about Hillary's e-mails and Russia, Russia, Russia, Sen. Tillis asked about terrorism investigations. (See the transcript of the Wednesday, May 3, hearing here.) Comey responded that out of 2,000-plus "violent extremist investigations … about 300 of them are people who came to the United States as refugees."
So 15 percent of the FBI’s terrorism cases are refugees — far more than their share of the immigrant population, let alone the general population. And that denominator of 2,000 presumably includes people with no immigration nexus at all — skinheads, antifa, Klan, environmental and animal rights extremists, et al. So the refugee share of immigration-related terrorism investigations is more than 15 percent, perhaps much more.
This suggests that the president's temporary pause in travel from six terrorist-ridden Middle Eastern countries (the subject of appeals court proceedings today in Richmond) is almost beside the point. Better, tougher, more thorough vetting isn't likely to make any difference since refugees really are pretty thoroughly vetted. The problem is that vetting people from failed or enemy states is impossible.
Combined with the moral case against diverting refugee funds for resettlement of a few instead of protection-in-place for many more, the conclusion is clear: Refugee resettlement should be discontinued except in the most extraordinary, emergency cases. And even the UN refugee agency acknowledges that emergency cases make up only 0.4 percent of its resettlement referrals (See Table 8).
Help refugees where they are — our money goes much, much further and we can keep the security threats off shore.
Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Center for Immigration Studies.