Closer look at the Refugee Process in Conn., most will come to New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Millions are trekking across Europe for a better life. “Abdu” was among them. He arrived in New Haven six months ago and got help from an interpreter for an interview with News 8.

“They [Syrians] have simple needs and they ask the government and the government replied by killing the protesters,” said Abdu.

He says people are assassinated in the streets, there is no work, food is expensive, and no water. He hides his identity because he fears for his family left behind.

“They can hurt my family there in Syria,” said Abdu.

“There is a very thorough, very rigorous background check on every refugee that comes to this country,” said Chris George, Executive Director of the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS, in New Haven. He says the accused terrorist who came through France was never vetted.

“There was virtually no screening, no background check conducted on that person and France knows that,” said George.

George says the process is arduous here in the U.S. First, he says the United Nations welcomes and registers the refugees. Abdu registered in Jordan. Then, George says the U.S. government hand picks who comes in. Next, they wait. Background checks can take years.

“There’s never been a case of someone coming through the U.S. government refugee resettlement program, vetted by Homeland Security, comes to the United States and does a terrorist act. That’s never happened,” said George.

Lastly, to fly to America the refugee takes out an interest-free loan to cover their airfare.

“We meet them at the airport, bundle them up in winter coats take them to their apartment and get them settled,” said George.

Right now, he says 10,000 would come to the United States from Syria and it’s estimated about 100 would come to Connecticut. 42 already call this state home and half of them are in New Haven. That’s where Abdu settled and got a job making pizza.

“Mentally, I feel good am happy here,” said Abdu.

This afternoon the Deputy Homeland Security Advisor listed how refugees are selected:


• Refugees are subject to the highest level of security checks of any category of traveler to the United States, including the involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense.

• All refugees, including Syrians, are admitted only after successful completion of this stringent security screening regime, which includes all available biographic and biometric information vetted against a broad array of law enforcement and intelligence community databases to confirm identity and ensure safety.

• This screening process has been enhanced over the last few years to ensure we are effectively utilizing the full scope of our intelligence community to review each applicant.

• Mindful of the particular conditions of the Syria crisis, Syrian refugees go through additional forms of security screening. We continue to examine options for further enhancements for screening Syrian refugees, the details of which are classified.

• Focus on the Most Vulnerable

• The Administration’s emphasis is on admitting the most vulnerable Syrians — particularly survivors of violence and torture, those with severe medical conditions, and women and children — in a manner that is consistent with our national security.

• In the days since the attack on Paris some have taken the narrow view that protecting Americans from ISIL mandates that we turn our back on those most at risk to the terrorist group — the men, women and children forced to flee their homes and families, their schools and communities. The Administration rejects the flawed view that we can’t ensure our own safety while also welcoming refugees desperately seeking their own safety. The truth is: America can and must do both.

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