How will we vet more than 10K Syrian refugees? DHS has no idea

When we previously discussed the Syrian refugee crisis and the prospect of the Obama administration agreeing to vastly increase the number of migrants we take in, one question which arose immediately was how in the world we were going to screen out any potential terrorists. That question has now been put to administration officials as well as the head of Homeland Security and the answers are beyond troubling. In fact, it sounds like they have no idea who will be doing the screening or how we’ll pay for it. (Reuters)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is developing a plan right now for taking in at least 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, within existing budget constraints, Secretary Jeh Johnson told Reuters on Tuesday.

While some lawmakers have expressed concern about opening a pipeline into the United States for terrorists, the White House last week made the first specific U.S. commitment to increase acceptance of refugees from the war-torn country.

Johnson said on Tuesday that the security review and background checks for refugees would mainly fall to Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) within his agency. That unit’s budget is mostly derived from fees it collects, said Johnson, who spoke to Reuters after a swearing-in ceremony for new citizens in San Francisco.

“CIS does not depend upon, and cannot expect, appropriations from Congress,” Johnson said. “The organization has to pay for itself.”

The White House weighed in on the funding question as well and the answer was pretty much the same.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday that the administration for the moment does not see the need to seek additional funding to process refugees.

“There certainly is the potential for that in the future, but as of right now, that’s not necessary,” Earnest said.

Oh… really? So it may become a problem in the future, but it’s not right now so we should just jump headlong into the plan? This sounds for all the world like “just trust me” in terms of pulling this off and relies on everyone simply assuming that it’s all going to work out in the end. With all due respect to our elected leaders, we’ve watched you guys in action for quite a while now and that’s a pretty big ask. We were struggling to process 300 Syrians in 2014 and haven’t even finished processing the roughly 1,000 of them for this fiscal year. Now we’re supposed to rely on the same outfit (CIS) to handle more than ten thousand beginning next month? That’s going to require money and qualified personnel and the time to do investigations which span continents.

The alternative, of course, is just to declare the situation an “extraordinary circumstance” and open the flood gates. How do you suppose that’s going to work out?

As an alternate idea, if we really need an infusion of funds to pull this off perhaps we could go to the private sector. I understand that Google is flashing a significant wad of cash to help the Syrians. (NBC News)

Google has announced a donation-matching campaign that aims to raise $11 million for humanitarian organizations aiding the thousands of migrants and refugees that have overwhelmed European nations as they flee war-torn and impoverished countries.

In reality, the $5.5M that Google is putting up probably wouldn’t come close to covering the budget for this process and it sounds like they would rather channel their money overseas to provide food and shelter to the refugees themselves. But with a little bit of persuasion, who knows? Perhaps they could fund something right here at home which would not only help the migrants but the nation which made their success possible. It’s worth thinking about at least.

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