"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…” Matthew 25: 35-40
Pope Francis: “It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help.”
“We pray for the new administration to review our nation's history and uphold its founding ideals. It is important to recognize the significant and thorough vetting refugees are already subjected to before being issued visas to enter the US. As people of faith, we are required to follow the example of Jesus who reminds us in Matthew 25 of the criteria for our final judgment.” Bishop Stowe, OFM Conv.
The president's ban on Syrian refugees is particularly troubling as the Syrian refugees are part of a humanitarian crisis not of their own making.
Background on Refugee Resettlement:
Refugees are not terrorists; rather they are escaping war and persecution in their home countries. They have no choice but to leave and seek safe haven. The refugee resettlement process typically takes 18-24 months. Refugees are completely vetted before they are resettled in the United States. The US has one of the strongest vetting processes for refugees in the world. The entire 20 step process can be found below. The original can be found here.
1. Registration with the United Nations.
2. Interview with the United Nations.
3. Refugee status granted by the United Nations.
4. Referral for resettlement in the United States.
The United Nations decides if the person fits the definition of a refugee and whether to refer the person to the United States or to another country for resettlement. Only the most vulnerable are referred, accounting for less than than 1 percent of refugees worldwide. Some people spend years waiting in refugee camps.
5. Interview with State Department contractors.
6. First background check.
7. Higher-level background check for some.
8. Another background check.
The refugee’s name is run through law enforcement and intelligence databases for terrorist or criminal history. Some go through a higher-level clearance before they can continue. A third background check was introduced in 2008 for Iraqis but has since been expanded to all refugees ages 14 to 65.
9. First fingerprint screening; photo taken.
10. Second fingerprint screening.
11. Third fingerprint screening.
The refugee’s fingerprints are screened against F.B.I. and Homeland Security databases, which contain watch list information and past immigration encounters, including if the refugee previously applied for a visa at a United States embassy. Fingerprints are also checked against those collected by the Defense Department during operations in Iraq.
12. Case reviewed at United States immigration headquarters.
13. Some cases referred for additional review.
Syrian applicants must undergo these two additional steps (12 and 13). Each is reviewed by a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services refugee specialist. Cases with “national security indicators” are given to the Homeland Security Department’s fraud detection unit.
14. Extensive, in-person interview with Homeland Security officer.
Most of the interviews with Syrians have been done in Jordan and Turkey.
15. Homeland Security approval is required.
16. Screening for contagious diseases.
17. Cultural orientation class.
18. Matched with an American resettlement agency.
19. Multi-agency security check before leaving for the United States.
Because of the long amount of time between the initial screening and departure, officials conduct a final check before the refugee leaves for the United States.
20. Final security check at an American airport.
Despite the fact that the United States already has “extreme vetting” procedures in place, President Trump has suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, and he has barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. President Trump’s Executive Order (which is discussed in detail here), is unnecessary, immoral and ineffective.
Compiled by: Jason Miller, Director of Campaigns, Franciscan Action Network, Jason@franciscanaction.org