While 30 governors believe allowing Syrian refugees into the country is unsafe, a Seattle congressperson believes keeping them out could be even more dangerous.
First-district congresswoman Suzan DelBene told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz that the relatively small number of Syrian refugees coming to this country should be nothing to worry about.
“Supporting families, supporting those who are vulnerable and making sure that we make security for Americans a top-priority, I think those are things that are not necessarily mutually exclusive and that we should focus on doing everything we can on both of those fronts,” she said.
According to Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, the average processing time for a refugee family is two years. That includes security checks with several government agencies. Before arriving into the U.S., each refugee is assigned to a specific resettlement affiliate. After one year, refugees are required to apply for permanent residency.
DelBene said officials throughout the international community need to ensure the appropriate questions are being asked. She believes there is a “strong vetting process” in place, though “clearly there’s going to be things that you’re not going to be able to confirm … because there might not be records kept on it.”
“Many children and families who have been displaced by violence are simply looking for a place to go,” she said.
Besides just the humanitarian issues, there are also risks to not addressing the refugee crisis and being engaged or helping families in need.
“You’ve seen in Europe, folks are looking for a place to go and without that support and help we have families in a very, very desperate situation,” she said. “So collectively, the United States, the international community we have to work together to help put people in a safe place, help them on the best path forward, not only for the security of the American people, for the security of the refugees, but for security of people around the world.”
“The crisis isn’t stopping in terms of the number of refugees, the overcrowding that’s happening,” she added, pointing specifically to challenges in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. “This is something we have to address now. I think folks have already been behind in addressing the refugee crisis, so that’s got to be a critical requirement that we all think about.”
Beyond just the charity aspect of helping these families, there’s also a strategic reason. The picture of a seething mass of desperate refugees ignored by the world is exactly what ISIS wants to create.
“It’s probably something that an organization like an ISIL wants to see us do to continue to make this a greater challenge to continue to see families who are suffering,” she said. “This is something that we collectively have to combat because that probably is more playing into their strategy more than anything. It’s something that clearly is against our values and against what we stand for.”