PBS REPORTS: How the U.S. ‘Vetting’ Process Works for Refugees

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 10.00.15 AMFunny thing is that most of those refugees don’t have any documents on them, because their countries don’t operate like that. So how will our officials be able to tell if they’re a terrorist or not?

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled that country to escape the ongoing civil war there. Migrants have trekked across Turkey, landing first in Greece, before making their way into Europe. European authorities have been overwhelmed by the mass migration. Meanwhile, the United States has announced plans to accept about 10,000 Syrian refugees trying to leave the region.

Lawmakers and more than half of U.S. governors, mostly Republicans, have raised questions about the vetting process for Syrian refugees being brought to the United States. Some said they were worried that Islamic extremists may try to take advantage of the U.S. refugee process.

Here are a few things to know:

— The U.S. annually accepts 70,000 refugees from around the world. This group includes people fleeing violence, religious persecution and war. The Obama administration announced earlier this year that the number of people invited to move to the U.S. as refugees would be increased to 85,000 in the coming year, including about 10,000 Syrians.

— The U.S. has helped resettle about 2,500 Syrian refugees since the war started in that country in 2011. The Obama administration said about half that group is children, while about 2.5 percent are people over the age of 60 and roughly 2 percent are single men of combat age. The overall group is almost evenly split among men and women.

— Amid questions about background checks and security vetting, the administration for the first time this week disclosed new details about how refugees are investigated. The process is directed by the Homeland Security Department and involves the State Department and U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Refugees submit to in-person interviews overseas, where they provide biographical details about themselves, including their families, friendships, social or political activities, employment, phone numbers, email accounts and more. They also provide biometric information about themselves, including fingerprints. Syrians are subject to additional, classified controls, according to administration officials, who briefed reporters this week on condition that they not be identified by name to publicly discuss confidential details about the process. The Associated Press had been seeking details about the vetting process since September.

Read more: PBS

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