Obama’s refugee screening default

One hot-button issue in the first presidential debate will be the Syrian and other refugees who are allowed into the country.

The vetting process of asylum seekers for resettlement in the United States usually takes between 18 and 24 months.  But to meet President Obama’s goal of bringing in “at least 10,000” more Syrian refugees by the end of 2016, the process was cut to 3 months.  And on August 29, White House spokesman Josh Earnest announced “this goal that was met a month ahead of schedule.” 

Following harsh criticism by the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump that radical Muslims are allowed into the country, and statements by intelligence and law enforcement officials agencies that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to verify the information provided by the Syrian applicants, the White House defended Obama’s decision, saying the administration succeeded in mobilizing the necessary “resources both within the intelligence community, within the Department of Homeland Security, to do things, like deploy more officers to conduct interviews.”  Such vetting, according to Earnest, “involves collecting biometric info, doing in-person interviews, doing background checks, running their info through a variety of national security and international databases.”

But according to the regional refugee coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Gina Kassem, a refugee resettlement center, which opened last February in Amman, Jordan, interviews some 600 refugees each day.  And to achieve the goal set by Obama, the Center does not exclude anyone or “look for families with certain education background, language skills or other socio-economic factors [or] cut family sizes.” 

The vetting process, which according to Earnest usually takes “quite a bit of time,” has been shortened to meet Obama’s demands.  Considering the fact that background information on Syrian refugees is at best unreliable, how can a thorough screening be accomplished in just three months?  

Nonetheless, Hillary declared that halting the admission of refugees from Syria and other countries afflicted by Islamist terrorism until a reliable vetting system is found, as Trump proposes, is a “cynical ploy.”  Moreover, to justify her position, she and her supporters are telling the American people that there is no proven link between immigration and terrorism.  To the contrary, they argue, “migrants from terrorist-prone states moving to another country are an important vehicle through which terrorism does diffuse.”  On top of this, they claim, “immigrant inflows per se actually lead to a lower level of terrorist attacks.”

One important caveat to these claims is that the much cited report looked at migration trends between 1970 and 2000, before the al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S.  In addition to killing thousands of innocent civilians on U.S. soil, they showed that the U.S. is vulnerable.  This was used to propagate radical Islamic ideologies under the guise of “Political Islam” (an oxymoron) among Muslim communities everywhere.  Imams and Muslim organizations, mostly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, have launched propaganda to stop assimilation into Western societies and to assert their social/political and economic presence by demanding the imposition of Islamic law (sharia), as well as by adopting newly made up symbolic traditions, such as the hijab (headscarf) for women.

In addition, Muslims were called to advance their efforts in proselytizing Westerners to Islam (Dawah).  The purpose of these efforts is to weaken host countries’ Western values from within and abuse democratic political systems to gain power until one day, the host country becomes “an Islamic democracy.”  Jihad/terrorism is encouraged to reinforce fear and quiescence among the infidels.  Pres. Obama and his hopeful successor, Hillary Clinton, are bringing in and proposing a dramatic increase of thousands of poorly vetted refugees for resettlement in the U.S. 

Last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott (R) sent a letter to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, stating that his state is “withdrawing from the Obama administration’s refugee resettlement program” on Jan. 31, 2017.  “While many refugees pose no danger, some pose grave danger, like the Iraqi refugee with ties to ISIS who was arrested earlier this year after he plotted to set off bombs at two malls in Houston,” said the governor.  He went on to explain that because “the federal government lacks the capability or the will to distinguish the dangerous from the harmless, and Texas will not be an accomplice to such dereliction of duty to the American people. Therefore, Texas will withdraw from the refugee resettlement program.”  He concluded his letter by strongly urging “the federal government to completely overhaul a broken and flawed refugee program that increasingly risks American lives.” 

But how is it possible to distinguish who is dangerous and who is not?  How can we recognize the presence of a hostile intent of even documented refugees, immigrants, or tourists to this country especially sympathizers of radical Islamic terrorist entities from Muslim countries, at the time they apply to or enter the country? 

Looking for possible solutions, we looked at a variety of profiling and detection technologies.  The one that stood out is the Israeli Suspect Detection Systems, which seems to offer the much needed screening to detect hostile intent.  It is already used in some 15 countries, but not by the U.S. government. 

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security helped fund the development of the SDS.  But when its prototype was ready in 2008, DHS declined to use it. 

Why?  According to Shabtai Shoval, the co-founder of Suspect Detection Systems Inc., DHS claimed that screening to detect hostile intention “would constitute an intrusion on the privacy of those screened by the system.”

According to the company's website, the SDS is an automated interviewing and interrogation system that has both mobile and Kiosk applications.  It allows the screening of a large number of people and “does not require operator training.  One operator can handle simultaneously ten stations. It has a central management and database system that allows storing all tests results, analysis, and data mining, and is deployed and integrated with governmental agencies.”  The SDS uses an automated interviewing decision-making system with varying stimuli, which is “adaptable to a variety of different questioning contexts, different cultures, and languages. The examination lasts 5 minutes when there are no indications of harmful intent, and 7 minutes to ascertain it (with only 4% false positive, and 10% false negative).”

With the growing pressure to resettle refugees, any system with proven capability to identify hostile intent thus lowering the risk of admitting jihad sympathizers to the country  should be used to best guarantee that those allowed in have no immediate intention to kill Americans in the name of Allah. 

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