Justice

President Trump's Plan for Refugees Could Play Into ISIS' Hands

January 25th 2017

By:
Charles Davis

President Donald Trump is planning to further restrict immigration from Syria and other countries in the Middle East amid the worst refugee crisis since World War II, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Refugee Screening in the U.S.

The action comes despite the fact the few refugees who have been resettled in the United States already go through a years-long, extreme vetting process.

Trump is planning to sign executive orders on Wednesday blocking visas from being issued to people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen, Reuters reported, citing congressional aides and immigration experts who the publicatin says were briefed on the plan. The move does not affect the roughly 10,000 Syrian refugees who were resettled in the U.S. under President Barack Obama.

The U.S. government has carried out air strikes in most of the countries covered by Trump's executive order, with a recent report claiming those strikes have killed hundreds of civilians in Iraq and Syria.

The ostensible reason for restricting these refugees is the threat of terrorism. As Reuters notes, “Trump’s restrictions on refugees are likely to include a multi-month ban on admissions from all countries until the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security can increase the intensity of the vetting process.”

But refugees already go through an extensive screening process, one far more intensive than those seeking to come to the U.S. on a tourist visa.

A Syrian refugee must go through two years or more of background checks and interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate before ever getting the chance to step foot in the U.S. itself. Immigrants as a whole are also statistically shown to be less likely to engage in criminal activity, according to the American Immigration Council, and refugees in the U.S. have never been convicted for carrying out an act of terrorism.

"It’s just sad and makes me angry," Loubna Mrie, a Syrian asylum-seeker in New York City, told ATTN:. Like millions of other Syrians, she was forced to leave her country due to the violence of the Syrian government and Islamic extremists. She told ATTN: she went through a "crazy vetting system" just to get here, but on Monday, her 26th birthday, Trump will sign an order signaling that he wishes she never come.

Loubna Mrie

"Trump has no reason to hate us," Mrie said, "and he cannot just like punish these people just because bad things are happening in their countries." But she takes solace in the fact most Americans did not support him, knowing not to conflate a government with an entire people. Restricting refugees "is not what makes the country great," she said. "Not the government, but the people here, and the way they welcome us — I'm talking from my personal experience. The opportunities I was offered without any questioning where I came from. This is what makes the country great. We are able to build our lives here because of the people."

By barring refugees, Trump is pursuing a policy backed by the so-called Islamic State, which has sought to heighten tensions between refugees and their host countries in order to fuel its narrative about a clash of civilizations.

“The strategy is explicit,” Harleen Gambhir, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, wrote in The Washington Post last November. The Islamic State, Gambhir noted, has itself said it aims to “actively destroy the grayzone” — the space between extreme secularism and Islamic radicalism occupied by 99 percent of Muslims — so that those who follow Islam in the West find themselves stuck with an unappealing choice: stay where they are not wanted, or join the terrorists’ self-styled caliphate “and thereby escape persecution.”

With a blanket restriction on men, women, and children from largely Muslim countries, Trump is making the extremist argument that there’s no place in the West safe and welcoming for a follower of Islam that much easier to make.

"This country will go through hell in the next four years," Mrie told ATTN:. "It’s up to the people to keep it together — to not let this four years divide the country — and to survive this hatred."

Watch ATTN:'s video about the refugee vetting process below.