Since the news broke that one of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks on Paris that killed more than 120 people on Friday may have snuck into France by infiltrating the waves of refugees from Syria’s civil war, at least nine Republican governors and one Democrat have said that their states will refuse to accept Syrian refugees (something that they can’t actually do) and GOP presidential contenders including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee have called on the president and Congress to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the country as a whole. Cruz has suggested accepting only Christian refugees from the country, while Jeb Bush has hinted at the same thing.
This is a dream come true for the anti-refugee movement in the U.S. which had already been trying to claim that Syrian refugees — who go through a long and arduous security screening process before being admitted to the U.S. — represent a threat to national security.
The leading activist focusing specifically on preventing the resettlement of refugees in the U.S., Refugee Resettlement Watch’s Ann Corcoran, wrote on her blog today that other commitments kept her from writing much today, “But, LOL!, there are so many people writing about refugees now that I can soon retire!”
Prominent anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney responded to the news of the Paris attacks by calling for “a moratorium on Muslim migration” to the U.S., circulating a post from Corcoran calling for the same.
Pamela Geller predictably went even farther, writing on her blog yesterday that President Obama “should be brought up on charges” if he allows any more Muslims into the U.S.
NO MUSLIM MIGRANTS. Obama should be brought up on charges if he moves forward and brings these murderers here. They mean to kill us.
As refugee resettlement experts explained to Politifact last month, trying to game the refugee resettlement process would not be a likely method for an ISIS terrorist trying to reach the U.S.:
The U.N. has said 10 percent, or about 400,000, of the Syrian refugees in camps need to be resettled. President Barack Obama announced that in fiscal year 2016 (through Sept. 30), the United States would accept at least 10,000 refugees from Syria.
Those 10,000 aren’t necessarily the type of people who would be ISIS operatives as Trump fears, according to Mock.
"The priorities go to torture survivors, people with serious medical conditions, children and teens on their own, and women and children at risk," Mock said. The people selected undergo screening by state agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. The process can take years.
That doesn’t make for an efficient method of terrorizing the United States, Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Daveed Gartenstein-Ross said. While it’s a legitimate concern that there are ways of beating the screening process, he said, there would be more efficient ways for ISIS cells to reach America than what Trump is fearing.
"Instead of sitting around hoping you win the refugee lottery and then wait years, then pass the screening to get to America, it would be much easier for a terrorist group to send a person through Europe or put them onto an airplane to the United States," Gartenstein-Ross said. "If they could otherwise pass the refugee screening process, they could certainly get on an airplane."
As the libertarian Niskanen Center notes, “not one” of the millions of refugees admitted under the U.S. refugee resettlement program since 1980 “has committed an act of terrorism in the U.S.”