Who the ‘Syrian Refugees’ Are — Not All of Them Are Syrian

President Obama has already started implementing his plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees to America. However, given that some of the terrorists who attacked Paris snuck into Europe using fake passports pretending to be Syrian refugees, coupled with several attempts by Syrian nationals to illegally cross our borders, most Americans are worried about the refugee policy and have called for it to be paused.

In response, President Obama has dug in his heels. He harshly criticizes opponents of his plan and dismisses anyone and any facts that run counter to his narrative — facts such as:

1. Many aren’t from Syria

Europe, which is dealing with the brunt of the Syrian-refugee crisis, is contending with massive amounts of fraud committed by its refugee population. Many aren’t even “refugees.” Rather, they are “migrants” as defined by international law. A recent United Nations report indicates that only about half of the people entering Europe in this flood are from Syria. Europeans officials have raised concerns that about one-third of these self-identified refugees are lying about being Syrian in order to win residency.

Syrian passports are highly sought after by people hoping to enter Europe. For as little as $250 and a few days of waiting, you can buy a fake Syrian passport. Syrian passports are effectively worthless as identification, because of the thriving black market and a lack of records from the Syrian government.

2. Most are not widowed women and orphaned children

President Obama has sharply criticized resettlement opponents, saying they were “scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America.” Military-age males were the “forefront of the human torrent flowing into Europe from Syria,” however, according to Time magazine. In to a Pew Research Center review of Eurostat data, 72 percent of asylum applicants are male, and over half are men under the age of 40.

3. Those in charge of ensuring our security don’t think that the refugees can be properly vetted

To substantiate their argument that that bad people aren’t coming into the country, refugee proponents often highlight the screenings, interviews, and length of time that the vetting process takes. Security screening involves our government’s checking documents, provided by the applicants, against the records of foreign government. But this has led many to ask, “How do you screen people from a war-torn country that has few criminal and terrorist databases to check?”

Senior officials from the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have echoed this concern regarding checks, indicating that we have very little data and lack the intelligence necessary to properly vet Syrian refugees. How good can this vetting process be if, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, more than 90 percent of Syrians applying for refugee status are approved despite the lack of reliable data to verify their identity?

We should ask whether this vetting will be any better than the vetting of Pentagon-trained Syrian fighters. That resulted in a minuscule number of fighters, some of whom handed their weapons over to the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

4. Most are not from the minority groups ISIS targets for persecution

America evaluates refugees using a tiered system with three levels of priority. First priority is granted to those who have suffered compelling persecution. As Andrew McCarthy points out, under federal law we are “expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum.”

Some 16 to 23 percent of the estimated 3 million Syrian refugees who have fled the country are Christians. Even though ISIS has specifically targeted religious minorities (notably Christians and Yazidis) for persecution, less than 3 percent of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States so far are Christian, and 96 percent are Muslim.

When asked about the possibility of taking in Syrian Christians and other religious minorities ahead of Syrian Muslims, President Obama said that to use religion as a factor in determining whom we admit would be “un-American.”

5. Some have ISIS sympathies

In recent poll conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, respondents were asked, “Do you have a positive or negative view of ISIL?” Of those who were Syrian refugees registered, 13 percent answered “positive” or “positive to some extent.”

6. It costs more money to resettle refugees in the U.S. than in countries that neighbor Syria

The Center for Immigration Studies calculated that it costs twelve times as much to resettle a refugee in the United States as in a neighboring country in the Middle East.

7. The wealthy Arab-Islamic countries surrounding Syria aren’t taking refugees because of security concerns

Despite ample room, the higher cost of relocating refugees in America, and the ethno-religious homogeneity of the people within neighboring countries, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates refuse to admit Syrian refugees. They argue that accepting a large numbers of Syrians would be a security threat, as terrorists could be hiding within the flood of people.  Moreover, numerous reports have circulated of widespread violence, rape, and child abuse in the migrant population now flooding Europe.

Critics of President Obama’s plan for resettling Syrian refugees in the U.S. are labeled xenophobic bigots by those seeking warm fuzzy feelings and accolades for doing the supposed “right thing.”  It’s time for the president to stop demonizing his opponents, take a look at the facts, realize that they run counter to his narrative, and change course before we’re placed in a dangerous situation similar to the one Europe now faces.

About Alex VanNess

Alex VanNess is a fellow at the Endowment for Middle East Truth and formerly served as the director of the Middle East Peace and Security Policy at the Center for Security Policy. In the past, Mr. VanNess worked as an Intern for Congressman Doug Lamborn and then later as a member of staff for Congressman Tom McClintock of California. His articles have appeared in The American Thinker, Breitbart News, The Washington Examiner, and The Daily Caller, where he writes extensively on U.S. defense spending, the U.S./Israel strategic relationship, and the existential threats posed by Islamic fundamentalism. Alex holds a degree in Political Science and Peace & Conflict Studies from Wayne State University, and has studied Jewish Law and Philosophy at Shor Yoshuv Rabbinical College in New York.