The horrific terrorist attacks in Paris have resulted in a backlash against Syrian refugees. In the days after the attacks, which killed more than 120 people, state governors in the U.S., including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have said that they will not allow Syrian refugees to enter their states.
Prior to the attacks, the Obama Administration planned on admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. this fiscal year. All of the refugees would be required to undergo strict security screenings, which would likely take 18 to 24 months to complete.
But several state governors said that they are still concerned that terrorists will be able to pose as refugees and cross the border undetected. One of the terrorists who carried out the Paris attacks was said to have a Syrian passport, though he was not a refugee.
In a public letter to President Obama, Gov. Abbot said that any Syrian could potentially be connected to terrorism so they are not welcome in Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported.
He encouraged the president to put a hold on plans to admit the 10,000 Syrian refugees who are seeking shelter from the civil war that has raged on there for more than four years and has claimed more than 250,000 lives.
However, despite Gov. Abbot's announcement, Texas legal experts and refugee advocates said it is unlikely that Abbott could stop Syrian refugees from being resettled in Texas if the federal government places them in the state through local social-services agencies.
At a press conference on Monday, President Obama said that he remained committed to the 10,000 Syrian refugees and said that they will go through a rigorous screening process before being admitted into the country. He added that terrorism is exactly what these individuals are fleeing, and that "[s]lamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values."
The Security Screening Process for Refugees Entering the U.S.
Historically, refugees have to go through a more thorough screening process before being allowed into the U.S. than any other group that enters the country. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East have been admitted into the U.S. since 1980, the Huffington Post reported. Not one of these individuals has become a terrorist, thanks to the multi-stage vetting process and law enforcement efforts.
You can read about the specific steps that must be taken to resettle refugees in the United States here. The process includes a number of protections that are in place to ensure that the refugees do not pose a threat to the country. Additionally, less than one half of one percent of refugees from around the world are allowed to resettle in the U.S.
More information for refugees seeking asylum in Texas can be found here.